North Korea divides South's presidential hopefuls

 
South Korea's presidential candidates Moon Jae-in (L) of the main opposition Democratic United Party and Park Geun-hye of ruling Saenuri Party move to return to their seats after posing before a televised debate in Seoul December 4, 2012. Conservative and right wing Park who is the daughter of late South Korean military dictator Park Chung-hee and the former human rights lawyer Moon participated in a debate over security policy as North Korea readied a rocket launch that is timed to coincide with the South's Dec 19 presidential election. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL (REUTERS) - South Korea's two main presidential contenders clashed on Tuesday in a debate over security policy as North Korea readied a rocket launch that is timed to coincide with the South's Dec 19 election.

Both conservative Park Geun-hye, the daughter of South Korean dictator Park Chung-hee, and leftist Moon Jae-in have pledged to engage with North Korea, although Moon has offered unconditional talks with the reclusive and impoverished state in a bid to improve relations between the two Koreas.

"I will reopen the door to peace," Mr Moon said in the televised debate, adding he would restart all commercial projects and exchanges with the North that had been halted under incumbent President Lee Myung-bak.

Ms Park called on North Korea to stop its planned rocket launch, saying it would deepen the impoverished state's isolation.

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