S. Korean official defends inter-Korean projects

South Korea's point man on dealings with North Korea defended Seoul's engagement with the communist nation Friday in the wake of its nuclear test, saying it did not appear the North was readying for another blast. "There are no signs of North Korea preparing for a second nuclear test," Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung said in a speech to European business leaders in Seoul. "The North will be careful to avoid taking steps that would aggravate the current situation." Lee denied South Korean investments in joint projects - including an industrial zone and tourism project in North Korea - had been diverted to the North's nuclear weapons programs, as some critics allege could have occurred. He said such arguments were based on "unidentified assumptions." The projects are part of the unprecedented reconciliation between the two Koreas since their leaders held a summit in 2000.