Korea Times | 17 October 2006
Uri Party Proposes FTA-for-Security Deal
By Kim Yon-se
The chief policymaker of the ruling Uri Party said yesterday the government should push for a free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States to strengthen national security.
“The signing of a Korea-U.S. FTA is the best [national security] policy for Korea, which will secure the continued protection of the U.S. nuclear umbrella,” Rep. Kang Bongkyun of the Uri Party, said at a party meeting.
“If the U.S. invests a lot in Korea under an FTA, other underdeveloped countries will follow suit,” he said. “Protection of U.S. investors comes with the provision of a nuclear umbrella for Korea.”
Kang’s remarks targeted those Uri Party lawmakers who are opposed to an FTA with the U.S.
Leaders of the ruling party have continued to express strong regret that Uri Party members broke ranks and signed a petition sent to the Constitutional Court about the FTA talks with the U.S.
Last month, a group of 23 lawmakers, including 13 legislators from the Uri Party, who signed the petition insisted that the Roh Moo-hyun government infringed on the National Assembly’s right to ratify treaties by unilaterally seeking the FTA with the U.S.
Chief policymaker Kang said it was deplorable to see governing party lawmakers join the move, which could affect the nation’s future. “The FTA is a very important issue for the future of Korea,” he said at a party meeting right after the petition.
At a news conference, the 23 signatories argued the government is unilaterally seeking the FTA agreement even though the Assembly has the right to ratify and conclude treaties.
They accused the government of having disregarded proper process by failing to obtain prior approval from the Assembly before beginning the negotiations, and of failing to provide the legislature with information on the talks needed before ratification.
Rep. Kim Tae-hong of the Uri Party, one of the signatories, had said the Roh Moo-hyun administration has monopolized information on the FTA talks and is negotiating in a hurry.