Roh defends secret contact with N. Korea

April 10, 2007 at 9:54 AM

SEOUL, April 10 (UPI) -- South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun admitted Tuesday that he ordered a close aide to secretly contact North Korean officials in Beijing last October.

But Roh dismissed criticism that he violated local laws that ban unauthorized inter-Korean exchanges and communications by pursuing the secret contact with the North.

"My instruction (for the secret meeting) belongs to the president's inherent authority. Such contacts pose no problems politically or legally," Roh told a Cabinet meeting.

Roh has been under fire for secretly contacting North Korea for a possible summit in violation of Seoul's laws.

Ahn Hee-jung, one of Roh's closest confidantes, met with a senior North Korean official in Beijing on Oct. 20, just days after the communist state's nuclear test. The secret meeting came after the North said through a secret channel that it would "discuss an inter-Korean summit if Seoul sends a special envoy."

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