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S. Korea envoys in Seoul for annual discussions

South Korea opened an annual conference of its diplomatic mission chiefs Monday, with hundreds of senior diplomats gathering in Seoul to discuss “business diplomacy” plus other topics prepared to familiarize them with the nation’s foreign policy objectives this year.

Some 115 ambassadors and consuls-general will be attending the meeting running through Friday. The diplomats will be briefed on a variety of issues during the five-day conference, including the government’s goal on increasing arms trade with developing countries, as well as dealing with sensitive issues on the divided Korean Peninsula, the Foreign Ministry said. 
Heads of overseas diplomatic missions salute at the opening of their five-day annual conference at the Foreign Ministry on Monday.(Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)
Heads of overseas diplomatic missions salute at the opening of their five-day annual conference at the Foreign Ministry on Monday.(Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)

“In order to actively deal with the complicated diplomatic environment, we need brand new strategies ― an issue I trust the diplomatic missions to work on,” Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan told the diplomats in an opening speech Monday.

The minister also called for close attention on recent changes in North Korea, citing the ongoing power transfer from ailing leader Kim Jong-il to his youngest son, and deepening financial difficulties.

“The Korean Peninsula is under high uncertainties. How to deal with the unstable situation has emerged as a key task for us,” he said.

The conference opened with a briefing on inter-Korean relations and participants are scheduled to move to a training center out of Seoul later in the week to discuss foreign policy objectives for the year. The goals include regional security, energy cooperation, green growth, free trade cooperation and cultural diplomacy, the Foreign Ministry said.

The diplomats are also scheduled to visit industrial facilities, a naval base and meet with President Lee Myung-bak during the conference, it added.

By Shin Hae-in (hayney@heraldcorp.com)
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