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South Korea tells North Korea to stop saber-rattling -AP

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Jan 03,2003
SEOUL, South Korea - South Korea has rejected a proposal from the communist North to work together against the United States and told Pyongyang to stop saber-rattling. South Korea Unification Minister Jeong Se-hyun also said Thursday that the North's leadership "should not attempt to test the limit of the patience of the international community." Jeong, whose ministry handles inter-Korean affairs, said his government will use upcoming inter-Korean Cabinet-level talks to urge North Korea to stop efforts to restart its nuclear facilities. The meetings, which are the highest channels of dialogue between the two sides, will provide the first opportunity for South Korea to directly raise the nuclear issue with the North. "The nuclear issue is a matter that affects the destiny of our people," Jeong said. "Therefore, we should actively search for a solution that can make all parties - South and North Korea and related countries - the winner." Also Thursday, South Korea claimed critical Chinese support in its drive to speed diplomacy to end the crisis. South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Tae-sik and Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi agreed in Beijing that their countries would try "to resolve North Korea's nuclear issue peacefully through dialogue," a senior South Korean Foreign Ministry official said. "The two sides will work to prevent the situation from further aggravating," said Shin Jung-seung, director of the ministry's Asia-Pacific affairs section. The U.S. State Department said senior U.S., South Korean and Japanese officials would meet next Monday and Tuesday in Washington to coordinate policy on North Korea. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly was to head to South Korea and other Asian nations afterward for further talks, spokesman Richard Boucher said. At the United Nations, diplomats said Beijing wanted to deal privately with the situation through diplomatic channels rather than bringing it to the Security Council where Chinese diplomats could wind up - because of the long-standing alliance with the North - publicly defending Pyongyang. Seoul has also acknowledged the desire of South Koreans for their government to assume a larger role in determining the outcome of the dangerous standoff and vowed to lead the campaign to damp down the confrontation with the isolated, Stalinist North. "We must mobilize all our diplomatic resources to find a peaceful solution to the problem that is directly connected to our nation's stability and prosperity," said South Korean Foreign Minister Choi Sung-hong. U.S. President George W. Bush, however, sharply rebuked North Korean leader Kim Jong Il on Thursday, saying he has "no heart for somebody who starves his folks," though he remains confident in a peaceful solution to the nuclear standoff. In early December, North Korea alarmed the world by deciding to reactivate its plutonium-based nuclear program. It since has removed monitoring seals and cameras from its nuclear facilities at Yongbyon, expelled U.N. inspectors who visually monitored those facilities and signaled it may quit the global nuclear arms control treaty. While Washington has vowed to use diplomacy, the North suspects Washington eventually will use military force. And North Korea's state media said the country would not bend to U.S. pressure. "If the U.S. tries to settle the issue with (North Korea) by force, (North Korea) has no idea of avoiding it," said the North's government newspaper, Minju Joson, in a report carried on the North's foreign news outlet, Korean Central News Agency. It said the North's army was strong and ready to fight. The North, sensing opportunity in widespread anti-American sentiment in South Korea, also urged the South on Wednesday to back its confrontation with the United States. This emphasis on "cooperation" with South Korea comes at a time when Seoul is criticizing a possible U.S. plan to use economic sanctions to force North Korea to abandon its suspected nuclear weapons program. North Korea's overtures also are driven by economic needs, experts said. South Korea, under President Kim Dae-jung's "sunshine" policy of engaging the North, has launched a series of unfinished inter-Korean projects, including a cross-border rail link and tourist and industrial parks, that would bring the impoverished North badly needed investment. North Korea, which can hardly feed its 22 million people without outside relief, risks losing key sources of aid with its actions in recent weeks. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- @AP Material contained in JoongAng Ilbo On-Line Service is protected by copyright and shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium. Neither this AP Material nor any portion thereof may be stored in computer except for personal and non-commercial use. The AP will not be held liable for any delays, inaccuracies, errors or omission therefrom or in the transmission or delivery of all or any part thereof or for any damages arising from any of the foregoing.
by Paul Shin, Associated Press Writer
January 03, 2003




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