Park gov't-N Korea

SEOUL, March 24 (Yonhap) -- The Park Geun-hye administration will actively engage with North Korea with more support and exchange projects if the communist neighbor strives to follow international norms, a senior official at Seoul's presidential office said Sunday.

"Support for North Korea and diverse inter-Korean exchange programs will be expanded as long as the North cooperates with peace efforts on the Korean Peninsula by refraining from provocations and joining the international community," said a high-ranking official at Seoul's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae. He requested anonymity.

His remarks echo Park's "Korean Peninsula trust process" vision that calls for greater exchanges and dialogue between the two sides so as to build trust and reduce tensions across their heavily fortified border.

Citing the approval of a shipment of tuberculosis medicine by a private South Korean charity group to the North, the first aid package under the Park government, the official stressed the differences in how Park will deal with the communist North compared to former President Lee Myung-bak.

"Park's key principle is that any political incidents will not wholly suspend humanitarian aid and inter-Korean exchange programs," he said, "It's certain that Park's policy toward Pyongyang will be different from that of Lee."

Seeking peace and stabilization of the Korean Peninsula, the Park administration that took office late last month has embraced a "trustpolitik" doctrine to normalize inter-Korean relations that have been rocked by uncertainties in the past.

"The key to more support and exchanges is how transparent the North Korean regime is," said the senior official, calling for patience and cooperation between the two sides.

Escalating cross-border tensions, however, the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) monitored in Seoul reported Sunday that its leader Kim Jong-un inspected its second battalion under the Korean People's Army Unit 1973 the previous day.

The army unit, located in the North's Pyeongan Province, is known as being tasked with infiltrating into and disrupting South Korea's capital and other critical rear areas.

The Saturday inspection marks Kim's second straight visit to the unit, as he visited the unit's command a day earlier, the KCNA said.

During the visit, Kim instructed to "know about the enemies' military targets and their features" to attack them "in case of emergency," the KCNA said, while stopping short of further ratcheting up war rhetoric against South Korea and the United States.

Inter-Korean tensions have been mounting with Pyongyang repeatedly threatening to attack Seoul as well as Washington in response to an annual joint military drill between the U.S. and South Korea and in retaliation for fresh sanctions by the U.N. Security Council for its third nuclear test conducted in February.

<All rights reserved by Yonhap News Agency>