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South Korea spy chief nominee denies offering billions to North

South Korean National Intelligence Service chief nominee Park Jie-won is handed a copy of an alleged secret inter-Korean agreement dating to 2000 on Monday during his confirmation hearing at the National Assembly in Seoul. Photo by Yonhap/EPA-EFE
South Korean National Intelligence Service chief nominee Park Jie-won is handed a copy of an alleged secret inter-Korean agreement dating to 2000 on Monday during his confirmation hearing at the National Assembly in Seoul. Photo by Yonhap/EPA-EFE

July 27 (UPI) -- South Korea's spy chief nominee denied he signed a secret agreement with North Korea in 2000 that pledged to deliver billions of dollars in aid and economic assistance to the regime.

Park Jie-won, former chief presidential secretary to President Kim Dae-jung during Kim's historic summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Il, said the agreement is a forgery. A copy was presented at his confirmation hearing Monday to lead the National Intelligence Service, News 1 reported.

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Rep. Joo Ho-young, the floor leader for the main opposition United Future Party, presented the copy of the alleged "Agreement on Economic Cooperation," which included Park's signature.

Joo's copy of the document, dated April 8, 2000, showed the South agreeing to provide $2.5 billion in investments and economic funding to the North over a three-year period, beginning in June 2000.

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The South also agreed to provide $500 million of assistance in the "humanitarian spirit" to Pyongyang, Joo's document showed.

Park said the document is a forgery but the signature on the agreement was his. He also said he did not recall signing the agreement.

The nominee also said he would take all responsibility and would not rule out resignation if he is found to have signed the paper.

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Park played a critical role during the 2000 inter-Korea summit. Kim Dae-jung later won a Nobel Peace Prize for his diplomacy, but the achievement was overshadowed by revelations his administration bribed the North Korean leadership with $500 million to secure a direct meeting with Kim Jong Il.

At the hearing, Park may have refused to completely condemn North Korea as an enemy of the South Korean state.

Yonhap reported Monday Park said while Pyongyang is the "main adversary," it is also a partner in "peace, cooperation and unification."

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Park also said past South Korean government efforts to improve North Korea human rights have not yielded productive outcomes in response to opposition party lawmakers' questions.

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