It is necessary to "sternly" respond to North Korea's provocations, but all options should be on the table to denuclearize it, including sanctions and dialogue, South Korea's new top diplomat said Monday.
In her inauguration speech, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha also underlined the need for South Korea to get more actively involved in resolving the nuclear stalemate while further strengthening the alliance with the United States.
"(We) should sternly respond to provocations, but all options should be employed, including sanctions and dialogue, to induce the North's denuclearization," Kang told his staff. "In this process, efforts should be made to further strengthen the South Korea-US alliance, a bedrock of our diplomacy and security."
|Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha delivers her inauguration speech in Seoul on June 19, 2017. (Yonhap)|
"As for the North's ever-evolving and imminent nuclear and missile problem that is posing more threats to our security, we should tackle it by getting actively involved (in relevant efforts) with a stakeholder consciousness," she added.
Kang was formally appointed on Sunday as the country's first female foreign minister. It is the first time in 14 years that the ministry is headed by a person who didn't start as a career diplomat.
Her appointment came amid multiple diplomatic challenges confronting South Korea compounded by its shaky ties with China and Japan respectively over the deployment of a US missile defense system and the long-running disputes over Tokyo's atrocities during its colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.
Kang emphasized the need for South Korea to mend and further develop its relations with other neighboring countries.
"By wisely resolving pending issues with China, (we) need to advance our bilateral ties. With Japan, (we) should foster a future-oriented and mature cooperative partnership while looking squarely at the past," she said. "At the same time, efforts should be made to expand our diplomacy beyond four major powers in accordance with our heightened status in the world."
The former UN policy advisor noted that South Korea should more actively get involved in global issues such as climate change, terrorism, protectionism in trade and human rights.
In particular, Kang called for more efforts on the country's public diplomacy and development cooperation intended to join global efforts in helping less-developed countries.
She also emphasized the need for more communication with the public so as to listen to their views and opinions in drawing up diplomatic policies.
"It is necessary for us to review in a humble way whether we have done enough to listen to our people and let them know about our diplomatic policies in detail," she said. "Going forward, (we) should work hard to communicate with the people in a more active manner, and also with the National Assembly and the media."
Meanwhile, in a meeting with reporters after the inauguration ceremony, Kang reiterated the Moon government's stance on using all available options, including sanctions and talks, in dealing with the North but added that any talks can start only when Pyongyang shows a clear denuclearization will.
She also said that sending a special envoy to the North could be considered as part of efforts to resolve the nuclear problem but noted that it should be done through close coordination with the president, relevant ministries and the US.
Asked about her comments on the controversy caused by a former foreign minister's memoir in which he claimed that the Roh Moo-hyun government decided not to vote for a UN human rights resolution on the North more than a decade ago to avoid causing a setback in inter-Korean relations, Kang seemed to defend it, saying that it must have been the result of "all things considered."
The minister still said that she will keep the government stance in favor of the UN human rights resolutions against the North that has been unchanged since 2008, citing her expertise in the field. (Yonhap)