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South Korea solicits support on regaining Security Council seat

South Korea said Tuesday it will work on gaining a non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council in 2013-14, saying it can play an important role in the body for international peace and security as a country adjoined with the nuclear-armed North Korea.

The council, which currently has five permanent veto-wielding members ― the United Kingdom, China, France, Russia and the United States ― and 10 non-permanent members, is charged with responsibilities such as establishing peace-keeping operations and international sanctions, and authorizing military actions.

South Korea, which last sat on the council in 1996-1997, officially applied to return to the council last year and the U.N. will vote on the bid in October of next year. A non-permanent member is elected to serve for two years. 
Vice Foreign Minister Min Dong-seok speaks at “Korea in the U.N.: The Third Decade,” a conference in Seoul, Tuesday, celebrating the 20th anniversary of South Korea’s joining the United Nations.  (Yonhap News)
Vice Foreign Minister Min Dong-seok speaks at “Korea in the U.N.: The Third Decade,” a conference in Seoul, Tuesday, celebrating the 20th anniversary of South Korea’s joining the United Nations.  (Yonhap News)

“As a country neighboring North Korea, our participation in the U.N. activities for international peace and security holds greater meaning than simply contributing to the international community,” Vice Foreign Minister Min Dong-seok told a conference held to celebrate the 20th anniversary of South Korea’s joining of the U.N.

South Korea “plans to take an active part in discussing issues of reforming the U.N. peace-keeping activities and preventing the spread of mass destruction weapons,” he said.

Tensions have been running high on the Korean Peninsula following North Korea’s two deadly attacks in March and November last year that killed 50 South Koreans.

While appealing for international food aid to feed its starving population of 24 million, the communist Pyongyang has also kept up its nuclear ambitions, building a new uranium enrichment facility and revealing it to an outside expert.

During the one-day conference in Seoul to discuss South Korea’s future role in the U.N., Min also vowed to expand cooperation with the U.N. in development and reforms issues.

South Korea became a full U.N. member in 1991 with the right to vote. Before then, it had observer status in the U.N. General Assembly and was only allowed to attend meetings.

“It is very meaningful to seek which paths in the future in the 20th anniversary,” said Min. “South Koreans have strong affection toward the U.N. and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s recent reelection has played a role in strengthening the bond.”

“Korea will continue to render full support to the U.N., so that it can deliver relief and assistance to those in need,” he said.

Ban, former foreign minister of South Korea, was elected to a second term to lead the international body last month.

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