( dpa ) - President-elect Lee Myung Bak said Thursday that South Korea under his leadership would be patient with North Korea despite its failure to meet a year-end nuclear deadline.
Lee, who won election last month on a platform that included veering away from the engagement policy President Roh Moo Hyun has conducted with North Korea, also promised to continue dialogue and exchanges with South Korea's totalitarian neighbour.
Although Pyongyang missed a December 31 deadline to declare its nuclear facilities, materials and programmes as well as disable its main nuclear facility, Lee said, "We remain patient and mindful of the need to proceed carefully."
"At the same time, utmost efforts will be made in persuading North Korea that giving up its nuclear weapons programmes will benefit both its regime and its people," said the conservative who is to be inaugurated president February 25.
Lee proposed stepping up cooperation among the participants in six-nation talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear programmes, which involve the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia.
With an eye to insuring South Korea's security, "our cardinal effort will be placed on the complete resolution of the North Korean nuclear problem," Lee said.
Lee's remarks came during a week in which he also pledged to review cooperation projects the outgoing government concluded with North Korea while at the same time saying he was willing to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il if the talks would contribute to denuclearization.