January 14, 1999 18:03
Frank Hesske, head-designate of the European Union delegation to Korea, said Thursday that the European Union will dispatch three top-level officials, including a bureau head of the E.U. executive committee, to North Korea from Jan. 22 to Jan. 25. The high-ranking E.U. officials' visit to North Korea is the first of its kind, and may anticipate speedy reconciliation of diplomatic relations between Europe and North Korea.
Speaking to reporters at the German Embassy in Seoul, Hesske said that at the top of the agenda for the meeting with North Korean officials is the development of an effective food aid model, and assistance to restore North Korea's farming industry, including the production of seeds. Hesske said that the delegation will ask North Korean authorities to guarantee that the supplied food aid is distributed to those in need. He added that famine-stricken North Korea cannot survive by food aid alone, and that assistance to rebuild the farming infrastructure is necessary.
Claus Vollers, German Ambassador to Korea, who was also present along with British Ambassador Stephen D. R. Brown, said that North Korea must recognize that it would be to their own advantage to lend their cooperative efforts to international society rather than to try and extort aid for the right to inspect its nuclear facilities. Vollers said that the E.U. has made a contribution towards the construction costs of light-water reactors for KEDO (Korea Energy Development Organization), and the E.U. must participate in the investigation of the Kumchangri underground facilities.
Regarding the launch of the euro, Hesske negated the view that the euro would negatively affect Korean businesses, saying that such a view takes a superficial view of the competitive European market. The euro, he said, will provide more business opportunities for private Korean enterprises, and they should capitalize on the launch of the single monetary unit.
Hesske noted that the euro will rule out future risk of sudden fluctuations in European currencies. He also asked the Korean press corps not to equate the debut of the euro with the creation of an economic bloc. He predicted that the euro will increase its share in international money transactions by gradually replacing US dollars, which comprise 50% of all world-wide money transactions and 80% of global investment funds.
Commenting on the trade dispute between Korea and the E.U. on Korea's exports of steel products to the region, Hesske stated that a large amount of steel products are being exported not only to Europe but also to the U.S. If it is concluded that there is unfair trading, then the EU will take any necessary measures, he said.
(Koh Jong-won, firstname.lastname@example.org)
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