FM Yun mulls Russia visit for coordination on N. Korea
By Lee Haye-ah
SEOUL, Jan. 26 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's top diplomat said Tuesday he is planning to visit Russia at an early date to secure its support for a strong U.N. sanctions resolution against North Korea.
Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se made the remarks in an interview with Yonhap News Agency, saying Seoul has been making various efforts to persuade Russia and China to help punish the North for its fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6.
"I'm considering visiting Russia in the near future... as early as possible," he said, declining to give a specific date. "That's one of our measures to secure Russia's support over the nuclear test."
Yun has yet to visit Moscow in his three years in office as the Park Geun-hye administration has largely focused on strengthening ties with China and bolstering the alliance with the U.S. Japan has also been a major diplomatic headache throughout the first half of Park's five-year term ending in early 2018.
But Russia's backing will be critical in order to draw a powerful sanctions resolution from the U.N. Security Council because it is one of five permanent veto-wielding members, along with China, France, Britain and the U.S.
Seoul and Washington have been pushing for a "strong and comprehensive" resolution differentiated from those of the past to force North Korea to finally give up its nuclear weapons program.
Russia and China have so far expressed caution about punishing the North too hard, apparently out of concerns for their own security interests. China in particular is known to be resistant to the idea of a U.S.-allied, unified Korea at its borders.
Yun said Russia will play an important role in establishing peace on the Korean Peninsula and leading the two Koreas to reunification.
Park's signature foreign policy objectives -- the Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative and the Eurasia Initiative -- cannot be fulfilled without Russia's help as they both seek to build stronger and broader links among countries in the region.
Yun acknowledged Russia's contributions to the success of the Eurasia Express train expedition last year, which took mostly South Korean travelers on a 14,400-kilometer journey across Russia to Berlin. The expedition, meant to publicize the Eurasia Initiative, carried a message of peace and hope for inter-Korean reunification as it couldn't pass through the heavily fortified border between South and North.
Moscow has invited Park for a visit, so the issue will be on the agenda if he goes to Russia, Yun said.
"We think it is important to develop South Korea-Russia ties based on their own merits," he said.
On South Korea's foreign policy objectives for the year, Yun stressed the importance of garnering international support for peace and reunification on the peninsula.
He noted South Korea's growing role in the global community this year, including as chief of 10 international bodies for peace and security, development, and human rights and culture.
"Of course, in multilateral diplomacy, what's most important is to contribute to universal values, but stemming from that will be something that can contribute to our foreign policy goals, including Korean Peninsula issues and particularly to the process of achieving peaceful reunification, which will be an important asset for reunification," he said.