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(2nd LD) S. Korea to create environment for denuclearization talks

2017/10/12 15:35

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(ATTN: ADDS more comments in paras 9-11)

SEOUL, Oct. 12 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will spur its initiative to create an environment for the resumption of talks aimed at denuclearizing North Korea, the country's top diplomat said Thursday.

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said that her ministry will work hard to encourage China and Russia to use their leverage on the North in bringing it out to the negotiating table.

"We will beef up our leading role to generate an environment in which denuclearization talks can resume," Kang told lawmakers during a parliamentary audit. "In this process, we will actively push to induce the influence that China and Russia have over the North."

   Her renewed emphasis on talks with the North came despite rising tensions prompted by the North's continued provocations and a recent war of words between the leaders of the North and the U.S.

South Korea has been saying that it will seek to resolve the North's nuclear issue not just through sanctions and pressure but also through diplomatic efforts, including direct talks.

In a speech in Berlin in July, President Moon Jae-in underlined the importance of dialogue to address the North's nuclear issue and said that his government will work to establish a permanent peace regime on the peninsula.

Kang vowed to keep the momentum strong for the president's policy direction on the North and continue the efforts to establish a Korea peace regime in tandem with progress in denuclearization efforts.

Despite no response from the North to Seoul's overture for talks including those on the reunion of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War, Kang said that efforts on the front should continue "with patience."

   Kang said that the North does not seem to have a will to return to talks at this moment, which makes it inevitable to work together with the intentional community in faithfully enforcing sanctions.

She also said that the growing call among some hardliners in the U.S. for military action is also intended to increase the eventual effect of sanctions and pressure.

"My purpose, however, is to prevent the pressure and sanctions regime from taking root. Ultimately, the chapter for denuclearization talks should open," she said. "Whether it be between the U.S. and the North or between the two Koreas, (we) should seize an opportunity. To make or seize the opportunity, we are working hard in various areas."

   Kang also emphasized the need to bring attention to the dire human rights conditions in the North, saying that it is important to keep a consistent voice about the issue and take an approach toward providing humanitarian assistance to the impoverished state regardless of any political considerations.

As for the planned visit by U.S. President Donald Trump to South Korea next month, the minister expressed hope that it will serve as a chance for the two countries to further strengthen their ties and added that she will work hard to expand high-level exchanges between the allies.

Meanwhile, she said that South Korea and the U.S. share the view that it is of the essence for them to maintain an overwhelming military superiority over North Korea in order to better counter its evolving nuclear and missile threats.

kokobj@yna.co.kr

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