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Foreign, defense ministers of U.S., S. Korea to meet over N. Korea

2016/08/28 15:39

SEOUL, Aug. 28 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's foreign and defense ministers plan to travel to Washington in October to meet their U.S. counterparts for discussions on ways to better handle North Korea's growing threats, Seoul's foreign minister said Sunday.

In a TV debate program aired Sunday morning, Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said foreign and defense ministers of the two countries will talk about "specific" measures to keep the North from intensifying its nuclear and missile ambitions.

"We will also cooperate with the U.N. Security Council and our allies to let North Korea know the pains and costs involving nuclear and missile development will only grow if it sticks to the development," the minister said.

For Seoul, it is not the right time to suggest a round of dialogue with Pyongyang. Instead, it is important to generate conditions and environments where Pyongyang finds no other option but to give up its nuclear and missile ambitions, Yun said.

Citing the recent defection of Thae Yong-ho, a London-based North Korean diplomat, to the South, the minister noted that the number of elite North Korean defectors has reached a record level in the recent eight months.

"We see increasing defections of North Korean elites as clear evidence that a variety of international sanctions on the communist regime are working," he said, expecting such defections to continue in the future.

In this photo taken on Aug. 24, 2016, Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se delivers a briefing on the trilateral foreign ministers' meeting among South Korea, China and Japan at a Tokyo hotel. (Yonhap) In this photo taken on Aug. 24, 2016, Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se delivers a briefing on the trilateral foreign ministers' meeting among South Korea, China and Japan at a Tokyo hotel. (Yonhap)

While stressing that now is the "last opportunity" to contain North Korea's nuclear and missile programs, the minister called on China to "understand the desperateness of the South Korean government and people for a missile defense system."

   The Seoul government said it will deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in Seongju, 296 kilometers southeast of Seoul, as planned to counter incoming missiles from the North.

On July 8, the South and the U.S. announced a decision to deploy a THAAD battery here by the end of 2017 to better defend against the North's nuclear and missile threats. On Wednesday, the North test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) from the East Sea, resulting in the UNSC's decision to take "significant" measures against Pyongyang.

The U.S. has long desired to deploy THAAD to the South, but Seoul had been hesitant due to strong objections from China that claimed the system, especially the powerful X-band radar that comes with it, could be used against it.

This photo taken on Aug. 22, 2016, shows Defense Minister Han Min-koo stepping into the National Assembly to explain the planned deployment of an advanced U.S. antimissile system in South Korea by 2017. (Yonhap)  This photo taken on Aug. 22, 2016, shows Defense Minister Han Min-koo stepping into the National Assembly to explain the planned deployment of an advanced U.S. antimissile system in South Korea by 2017. (Yonhap)

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr

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