South Korean President Picks New Unification Minister

Posted August 30th, 2011 at 6:55 pm (UTC-5)
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South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak has chosen a new unification minister as the country seeks to ease tensions with neighboring North Korea.

The unification ministry is responsible for promoting inter-Korean dialogue, exchanges and cooperation with the idea that the north and south will eventually reunite.

Mr. Lee Tuesday named his close confidant and former ambassador to China Yu Woo-ik to replace Hyun In-taek, who was known for his hardline stance on North Korea.

A spokesman for the presidential office said Yu is expected to continue unification policies pursued by his predecessor and develop them more.

The president also selected new ministers of culture, health and gender equality.

The four will be formally appointed to the Cabinet after parliamentary confirmation hearings.

Tensions between North and South Korea increased in recent years over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program and a deadly maritime border dispute.

Relations eased somewhat when North Korea recently signaled it was ready to return to six-party negotiations on dismantling its nuclear program in exchange for aid.