Korean peninsula needs new framework for peace, says former unification minister

South Korea's former unification minister Dr Jae Jung Lee has told Christians that a new framework for negotiating peace and unification on the Korean peninsula is "the need of the hour".

He said this had become more urgent after North Korea declared the armistice between the two countries to be void.

Dr Lee was speaking at an international consultation on Asian peace and security taking place in Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong.

The consultation has been organised by the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA) of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Christian Conference of Asia.

"The armistice agreement never brought peace in the Korean peninsula," said Dr Lee, who was unification minister from 2006 to 2008.

"There were constant violent conflicts at the truce line, as well as military infiltrations in the past years which affect peace and security."

He added: "The international ecumenical community has to perform the important task of mobilising the international community to ensure lasting peace in the divided country of Korea."

The consultation is taking place around the theme of the WCC 10th assembly, to be held in Busan, South Korea, from 30 October to 8 November.

The theme of the assembly, "God of life, lead us to justice and peace," is being considered during the consultation within the Asian context and with a specific focus on the situation on the Korean peninsula.

Professor Sachio Nakato of Ritsumeikan University in Japan told the consultation that the six-party talks should play a "key role" in peace negotiations between North and South Korea.

"The US focuses more on managing the North Korean nuclear issues rather than solving the problems through the framework of the six-party talks," he said.

The general secretary of the Presbyterian Church of Korea, Reverend Dr Hong Jung Lee explained the biblical basis for working towards reconciliation.

"Healing and reconciliation sustain the integration between justice and peace and their coexistence for life," he said.

"Healing and reconciliation are both the spirituality and the strategy of God's salvation and liberation and the way of witnessing the wholeness of the Gospel at all dimensions.

"In today's complex situation of Korean peninsula, God's liberation will show the way of sustaining peace and justice in the region."

The consultation ends on Thursday.