( dpa ) - As part of plans for a "small and efficient" government South Korea's president-elect Lee Myung-Bak will close six ministries, including the unification ministry responsible for inter- Korean affairs, an aide to Lee said Wednesday.
The plans to streamline government would see six ministries closed and 7,000 offices closed, the aide was quoted as saying by Yonhap news agency.
The unification ministry would be combined with the foreign ministry. The plan to close it follows Lee's campaign pledges to deviate from the current liberal "engagement policy" towards North Korea and limit future relations with the communist country unless Pyongyang abandons its nuclear arsenal.
Lee's conservative incoming government has said it will continue humanitarian assistance to the North as long as agreements reached during six-party talks on the dismantling of nuclear weapon programme are met.
The plan was criticized by former unification minister Chung Dong Young of the government-aligned United New Democratic party who said the ministry "has been the main communication channel between Seoul and Pyongyang."
The other ministries to be closed or fused into other ministries are gender equality, maritime affairs, information, science, and planning and budget.
The restructuring is subject to parliamentary approval.
Lee, elected in December, takes office on February 25.