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FM Kang calls for early resumption of talks with NK

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha attends a video-linked foreign ministerial session of the East Asia Summit on Wednesday. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha attends a video-linked foreign ministerial session of the East Asia Summit on Wednesday. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha called for an early resumption of denuclearization talks between the two Koreas and the US, while asking for international support for the peace process to take root on the Korean Peninsula at a regional forum, her office said Thursday.

Kang made the call Wednesday during the annual Association of Southeast Asian Nations Plus Three meeting, which involves the 10-nation bloc along with South Korea, China and Japan, held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“South Korean government remains committed to its position on resolving the (North Korea) issue through dialogue,” she was quoted as saying. “In order to make real progress on achieving complete denuclearization and the establishment of a permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula, the dialogue between South and North Korea and the US needs to be resumed at the earliest date.”

Kang reiterated Seoul’s continuous efforts to bring the North back to the negotiating table at another ASEAN meeting that followed.

During the East Asia Summit, which brings together the ASEAN countries, South Korea, China, Japan, the US, Russia, Australia, New Zealand and India, Kang stressed that efforts for denuclearization and peace need to continue, acting in step with the agreements from two inter-Korean summits in 2018 and the first-ever US-North Korea summit in the same year.

“For the faithful implementation of the agreements and the early resumption of the dialogue, Kang called for support from the international community, including the EAS,” the ministry said.

She also explained the South Korean government’s push for inter-Korean cooperation in humanitarian, public health areas, as both countries are battling the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Other top diplomats at the forum stressed the importance of resuming talks with the North, as well as the need for the implementation of the UN Security Council sanctions against Pyongyang.

The US-North Korea talks aimed at dismantling Pyongyang’s nuclear programs have been at a standstill since last year, when a summit in Vietnam between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ended without a deal. The two sides failed to narrow their differences over the extent of sanctions relief that should be provided in exchange for the North giving up its nuclear capabilities.

Also during the gathering, growing tension in the South China Sea amid the intensifying rivalry between Washington and Beijing topped the agenda.

Kang stressed the importance of peace and stability in the South China Sea for regional prosperity, calling for freedom of navigation and overflights in the South China Sea and dialogues to resolve the dispute. She also voiced hope that the negotiations on a code of conduct between China and the ASEAN nations will proceed in accordance to the international law.

The international maritime route has been at the center of dispute in the region for years, with China claiming sovereignty over almost all of the South China Sea, which is believed to have large deposits of oil and natural gas, while the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam have competing claims.

In recent years, China has reinforced its claim by engaging in military activities in the area, with the US responding by dispatching warships and military planes in the waters to deter Chinese aggression. 

By Ahn Sung-mi(