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Parliamentary speaker calls for dialogue with N. Korea in parallel with sanctions

South Korea's parliamentary speaker Chung Sye-kyun called Tuesday for dialogue with North Korea to run in parallel with sanctions, although the reclusive state's provocations have posed a "serious" threat to regional peace.

During a meeting with parliamentary leaders from 25 Asian and European countries, Chung also said that to help engage with Pyongyang, his National Assembly is seeking a meeting of the two Koreas' legislative chiefs.

"North Korea's provocative actions deserve sanctions from the international community ... However, our experience tells us that sanctions alone cannot resolve the North Korean nuclear issue," he said during the opening ceremony of the annual Meeting of Speakers of Eurasian Countries' Parliaments in Seoul.

"I believe that we should also undertake efforts to sit down and talk with the North in parallel with sanctions. That is how we can start to find clues to the solution," he added.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (at podium) offers welcome remarks at a luncheon he hosted at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae for parliamentary speakers from 25 European and Asian countries on June 27, 2017. (Yonhap)
South Korean President Moon Jae-in (at podium) offers welcome remarks at a luncheon he hosted at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae for parliamentary speakers from 25 European and Asian countries on June 27, 2017. (Yonhap)

Chung's remarks echoed those of new South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who has frequently stressed a need to add dialogue to the range of available options for dealing with the communist North.

In his congratulatory remarks for Seoul's meeting of parliamentary speakers, the South Korean leader again highlighted a need to rid North Korea of its nuclear and missile capabilities through all necessary means.

"For stability and prosperity, the North Korean nuclear issue must be resolved before anything," he said in a speech read by Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon on his behalf.

"The South Korean government will realize the denuclearization of North Korea by employing all available means, including dialogue and negotiations, as well as sanctions and pressure together with the international community," Moon said.

Later, when hosting a luncheon for the visiting speakers, President Moon asked the countries and their parliaments to support Seoul's efforts in ridding North Korea of its nuclear weapons.

"I believe the co-prosperity of our countries in the Eurasian region is the main mission we all have been tasked with by our people. I ask for your interest and support in resolving the North Korean issue," Moon told the group, according to his office Cheong Wa Dae.

The three-day conference on cooperation for Eurasian prosperity began on the day. The annual gathering, which follows its inaugural one in Russia last year, is hosted by South Korea's parliament and the State Duma, the lower house of Russia's legislature.

At their meeting held at a Seoul hotel, the South Korean Assembly Speaker Chung also reiterated his pursuit of an inter-parliamentary dialogue among the countries involved in the so-called six-party talks aimed at the North's denuclearization. The talks, involving two Koreas, the United States, China, Russia and Japan, have been stalled since late 2008.

"Along with such a multilateral mechanism, we should also make efforts to stimulate inter-Korean dialogue and exchange," he said.

"These efforts are not just about peace on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia. They are also closely linked to development and prosperity in the Eurasian region," he added.

At the close of the conference, the participants are set to adopt a joint declaration on fostering their cooperation for shared prosperity on the Eurasian continent. (Yonhap)
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