NK's economy should first stand on its own before unification:Lee
President Lee Myung-bak said Tuesday North Korea's economy should first get on its feet before the two Koreas become unified again, stressing that Seoul never wants the communist neighbor to collapse.
Lee made the remark in an interview with CNBC television broadcast in Singapore earlier in the day, stressing that the international standoff over Pyongyang's nuclear programs and other issues can be resolved if the regime opens up and works together with the outside world.
"It is not that we wish something will go wrong and North Korea will collapse because it will give South Korea a great burden," Lee said in the interview. "If North Korea goes together with the international community, its economy can stand on its own and it would be most desirable to have a peaceful unification after that," he said.
North Korea has relied on outside aid to feed its people since the mid-1990s.
Regarding the eurozone financial crisis, Lee said debt-ridden Greece should accept austerity measures demanded by the International Monetary Fund in exchange for a bailout package, saying South Korea went through harsher measures when it accepted humiliating IMF bailout loans during the 1998 Asian financial crisis.
"Compared with South Korea, I think the level now being demanded for Greece is reasonable," Lee said. "I think Greece, including its government, businesses, workers and people, should voluntarily accept this."
On Monday, Lee instructed officials to make thorough preparations to stave off any negative fallouts from the fiscal crisis amid concerns that Greece may not meet the terms of its bailout and drop out of the eurozone, a scenario that could destabilize the entire European market and beyond. (Yonhap)