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(LEAD) Seoul pushing China to back sanctions against nuclear N. Korea: S. Korean FM
SEOUL, Feb. 14 (Yonhap) -- South Korea has been striving to persuade China to take an active part in possible international sanctions against North Korea for its latest provocation of conducting its third nuclear test, Seoul's top diplomat said Thursday.

   "China's participation (to impose sanctions against North Korea) is crucial, and China has also expressed its firm opposition to the North's nuclear test," Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan said during the interpellation session of the National Assembly.

   "Despite China's attitude not being satisfactory, we have been making consistent efforts. South Korea and China have been in close cooperation and sharing diverse information," Kim said, while declining to give a direct answer to the question of how likely is Beijing to join the international move to harshly punish Pyongyang.

   On Wednesday, Kim spoke on the phone with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi "to exchange views on the current situation on the Korean Peninsula," Seoul's foreign ministry said, while declining to elaborate.

   Though China had expressed clear opposition to its communist ally's nuclear test, with the international community vowing a tougher punishment against the North, some say China would put the brakes on any tougher sanctions against Pyongyang to avoid angering North Korea.

   In an answer to the question raised by Rep. Jung Chung-rai of the main opposition Democratic United Party about "how tough the international sanctions against the North would be," Kim simply said, "the grand goal is to obstruct the North's capabilities of developing weapons of mass destruction such as missiles and nuclear weapons."

   During the meeting of the United Nations Security Council in the wake of the North's atomic detonation, Kim said the council members will begin work "on appropriate measures in a resolution," warning the North will be held responsible for "any consequences of this provocative act." The council is chaired this month by South Korea.

   Asked about his willingness to ask President-elect Park Geun-hye to send a bipartisan delegation to the North, Kim expressed skepticism.

   "I agree with the importance of a bipartisan diplomatic effort," he said. "If the issue can be resolved through a delegation to the North, I can consider the option, but I'm not sure if that way would be the solution."

  


Seoul's foreign ministry spokesman echoed Kim's resolute willingness to bring Security Council members together to reach a consensus on dealing with North Korea.

   "The South Korean government will make every effort to draw a resolution containing sterner measures than Resolution 2087 and to have it adopted at the earliest possible date," ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young said.

   "North Korea should recognize that such provocations do not help it at all, and should refrain from such acts," Cho said. "It is crucial (for the North) to learn early that it has nothing to gain, but rather faces further isolation."
Hours after Pyongyang confirmed its third nuclear test on Tuesday, its foreign ministry issued a statement that it is ready to conduct additional nuclear tests "if the need arises." On Thursday, the communist country also warned through a political review carried by the Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the ruling Workers' Party of (North) Korea, that it can acquire intercontinental ballistic missiles to counter hostile forces and bolster its self-defense capabilities.

   graceoh@yna.co.kr
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