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Seoul's top diplomat calls for stern but cool-headed approach to NK

South Korea's top diplomat has called for efforts to deal with North Korea's provocations sternly but in a "cool-headed" manner, amid rising tensions sparked by an ever-intensifying war of words between the United States and North Korea, the foreign ministry here said Tuesday.

"With the threat from the North growing, it is more important than ever to sternly respond to its provocations through close coordination between South Korea and the US, while at the same time managing the situation in a stable and cool-headed manner,"

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said in a meeting with Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) in New York on Monday (local time), according to the ministry.

The ministry added that Kang asked for cooperation and support from US lawmakers in this regard.

Kang was in New York after accompanying President Moon Jae-in who attended the UN General Assembly last week.

Kang judged it "meaningful" that this year's UN gathering gave nations a chance to strengthen international resolve to establish peace on the Korean Peninsula and denuclearize the North.

Kang made the remarks after North Korean Foreign Minster Ri Yong-ho told reporters in New York that US President Donald Trump had declared war against his country in a recent tweet, in which he warned that the North's leader and his regime "won't be around much longer."

Tensions are flaring up on the Korean Peninsula as the US and North Korea exchange bellicose rhetoric.

In his maiden speech to the UN General Assembly last week, Trump threatened to "totally destroy" North Korea in case the US

and its allies are attacked. Ri said later that Pyongyang may consider its most powerful test of a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean.

Markey, a ranking member of the Senate's East Asia subcommittee, pledged the US lawmakers' unwavering bipartisan support with regard to the alliance with South Korea and cooperation against the North on the nuclear issue, according to the ministry.

The senator, however, noted that sanctions and pressure only are not enough to resolve the nuclear stalemate. He called for a more active push for talks with the North in support of the Seoul government's approach to dealing with its northern neighbor, the ministry said. (Yonhap)