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Northeast Asia Peace Initiative

Backgrounder on UPF's Northeast Asia Peace Initiative

On the Korean Peninsula following World War II, people with a common history, culture, and language were divided by the Cold War struggle between superpowers. UPF's Northeast Asia Peace Initiative programs bring together leading experts, diplomats and scholars to explore the prospects for improved relations among the countries of the region. Political, military, economic and civil society factors are considered. Civil society initiatives include conferences, tourism, humanitarian projects and various forms of people-to-people engagement.

The main goal of the initiative is to contribute to the peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula, through dialogue, scholarly research and civil society initiatives that build personal connections.

For many years the founder of UPF, Dr. Sun Myung Moon, made various efforts to promote reconciliation between North and South Korea. Born in North Korea in 1920, he met with the President Kim Il Sung in 1991. The result of this meeting was the opportunity to start a series of projects in North Korea.

In 1998, the Little Angels Children’s Folk Ballet of Korea performed at the Pyonghwa Performing Arts Theatre in Pyongyang. At that time Mr. Byung-hwa Cho, Chairman of the National Academy of Arts, said, “The Little Angels did a great job of warming up the hearts of the people here. I hope this will warm up the political leaders in the North and South as well so that a wonderful climate for national unification can be created.”

For several weeks, beginning in September 2003, groups of South Korean tourists flew directly from South to North Korea for five-day visits. These were the first South Koreans to visit Pyongyang purely for the purpose of tourism. For many of them, especially those whose homeland is the northern half of the peninsula, this was not an ordinary vacation.

On several occasion, volunteers of the Universal Peace Federation sent humanitarian aid to the citizens of North Korea. For example, in 2013 UPF-Europe sent five shipments of medical supplies donated by Germany, Spain and Norway for a North Korean children's hospital.

These are just a few examples of UPF’s work as part of the Northeast Asia Peace Initiative.

The Universal Peace Federation considers it highly desirable to use all opportunities available for developing various kinds of economic, cultural, athletic and humanitarian projects and exchanges with North Korea as a means to engage Pyongyang, promote mutual trust and advance the integration of the country into the world community. The role of NGOs is very important from this perspective.

One of the proposals which UPF advocates is the concept of “peace zones,” which was first introduced in 1947 through the UN Security Council Resolution 181 to promote peace in Jerusalem.

During his speech at the United Nations in 2000, Dr. Moon proposed the establishment of “peace zones” in regions where serious conflict exists. A peace zone would serve as a place of stability, security and economic development. A peace zone could serve as a basis for ongoing negotiation, management of refugees and internally displaced people, and the development of industrial and trade zones that promote economic growth and partnership between nations or territories.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye in her address on February 5, 2014 said: “In the days to come, if we could build a peace park in the DMZ and so tear down the walls of distrust and contention, and if we could connect a Eurasian railway and so transform the Korean Peninsula into a channel of trust and peace, we would be that much closer to making unification a reality.”

Visiting Korea in November 2013 for the forum on "Korea-Russian Cooperation for the Commencement of the Era of Eurasia," Russian President Putin expressed hope that Korea will actively participate in the development of joint transport routes in the Asia-Pacific region and Central Asia. "Considering the economic profit that the two Koreas can get through this project, we need to solve political issues as soon as possible," the leader of Russia said.

President Putin has also stated that,"…we have a common goal with the Republic of Korea - to provide stability and security for all States in the region to achieve denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. To solve this issue is only possible through diplomatic channels during the six-party talks. We advocate for their early resumption."

Dr. Chon Son Hyun, the Director of the Unification Institute in South Korea, in his speech at the conference on “Peaceful Unification of the Korean Peninsula and the Russian Federation” on October 25, 2013 in Moscow emphasized that “tripartite cooperation will contribute to the economic advancement of Korea in the region and contribute to positive change in North Korea. To do so, South Korea, in close cooperation with Russia should agree upon appropriate measures and to search for new cooperation projects.”

In order to support the process of a peaceful reunification of Korea, the Universal Peace Federation has held a number of NEAPI forums in Washington DC, USA, Tokyo, Japan and Seoul, South Korea. A 2014 forum is scheduled for Vladivostok, Russian Federation, since Russia is one of the key players in the Northeast region, essential to the stability of the region.

For both security and economic reasons Russia is committed to peace, reconciliation and the reunification of Korea. It is in the interests of the Russian Federation to resolve this historical conflict in the Far East and to bring about a reunified Korea that is capable of maintaining relations of friendship, good-neighborliness and cooperation with Russia.

Better relations between North and South Korea, along with providing Russia with more favorable conditions for development of trade and economic cooperation with both parts of Korea, would open new opportunities for the economic development of the Russian Far East and for linking Russia’s economy with the Asia-Pacific region.

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