SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The South Korean governing party's presidential candidate said Thursday he will continue a conciliatory approach toward North Korea if elected and questioned the effectiveness of U.S.-led economic sanctions in pressuring the North to abandon its nuclear ambitions.The comments by Lee Jae-myung, who represents President Moon Jae-in’s liberal Democratic Party, come as nuclear negotiations between North Korea and the U.S. remain frozen over the issue of a relaxation of the crippling U.S.-led sanctions in exchange for steps by North Korea to wind down its nuclear weapons program.Lee has been locked in a tight race in the March election with conservative candidate Yoon Suk Yeol, who has vowed a tougher stance on North Korea and promised to pursue stronger military cooperation with Washington and Tokyo to cope with North Korea’s advancing nuclear threat.In a meeting with foreign media, Lee stressed that South Korea should take a leading role in dealing with North Korea, reflecting concerns in Seoul that it is increasingly losing its voice in international efforts to resolve the nuclear standoff. Lee expressed a desire to be an “active mediator” between U.S. President Joe Biden and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to help them reach a deal based on conditional sanctions relief and “phased, simultaneous actions” by the North to reduce its nuclear weapons and missiles. “When we ask whether the tough stance (against North Korea) based on sanctions and pressure really produced the results the Western world has aimed for, I can’t say that has been the case 100%,” Lee said. “Going forward, we will make judgments on whether a softer approach would be more effective or whether a tougher approach would be more effective depending on how the situation develops. But judging from the current situation, I think softer policies have been more effective than tougher policies.”Moon took a similar stance as he helped set up the first summit between Kim and...
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