Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder advised South Korea Tuesday to continue efforts to bring North Korea to dialogue and resolve the nuclear issues peacefully and diplomatically.
"North Korea is clearly a criminal regime. It thinks it can victimize its own people and continues to develop and test nuclear weapons," he said in a press conference held on the occasion of the publication of the Korean version of his 2006 autobiography.
"In order to block this, the international community should muster the utmost efforts. But the resolution must be peaceful and diplomatic," he said.
For its part, South Korea should "keep giving out the signal that it is willing to talk (with North Korea) whenever conditions are met," he suggested, adding dialogue offers need to be kept up despite North Korea's repeated rejections.
"I think South Korea needs to give that message without halting and with a renewed spirit."
Still, the resolution of the North Korean nuclear problem requires a joint strategy by major powers, namely the United States, China and Russia, he stressed.
"Peaceful and diplomatic resolution will be possible only when the three neighboring powers implement a joint strategy toward North Korea," Schroeder said, pointing out that ongoing American economic pressure on China and sanctions on Russia are not helpful for the coveted three-nation partnership.
Asked for advice for South Korean diplomacy against the backdrop of growing rivalries between superpowers, Schroeder said South Korea could be relatively more independent of the U.S. diplomatically.
He also expressed regret over Japan for withholding an apology to South Korean victims of the country's wartime sexual enslavement, the source of a long-running diplomatic feud between Seoul and Tokyo.
"This crime is not something the current Japanese generations have committed, but they are responsible for the historical fact of the past," Schroeder noted.
"I am sorry for Japan for having not yet been able to have the courage to apologize to the elderly women," he said of dozens of older South Korean victims, some of whom he met a day earlier in the country.
Later in the day, Schroeder met with President Moon Jae-in at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.
During the talks, Moon touted Germany's efforts to atone for its wartime misdeeds, while pointing to Korea's unresolved historical issues in an apparent allusion to its former colonizer, Japan.
"Germany understood the issues about its past through its sincere reflection and was able to move toward the future," Moon said. (Yonhap News)
Moon also expressed his gratitude to Schroeder's visit this week to a shelter for South Korean victims of Japan's wartime sexual slavery.