At UN, South’s foreign minister steps up efforts

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At UN, South’s foreign minister steps up efforts

NEW YORK - South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan is intensifying his last-minute diplomatic efforts for Seoul’s bid for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council on the sidelines of the General Assembly meeting, Seoul officials said Tuesday.

Kim, who is on a five-day visit to attend the annual UN meeting, has met or planned to meet with his counterparts from more than 40 nations to solicit their support for the bid, with less than a month to go before the vote.

South Korea, which last sat on the council in 1996-1997, aims to return to the council for 2013-2014, and the UN will vote on the bid on Oct. 18.

“Minister Kim continues to adjust his schedule in New York to meet more counterparts,” said a South Korean diplomat at the UN, asking not to be named.

The council has five permanent veto-wielding members - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States - and 10 non-permanent members elected to serve two-year terms.

South Korea hopes to return to the council as it seeks to expand its roles in UN activities for international peace and security. It would also help reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula, Seoul officials said.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula remain high following North Korea’s two deadly military attacks on South Korea last year - the sinking of a South Korean warship and the shelling of an island - that killed a total of 50 South Koreans.

Meanwhile, South Korean officials have said that Kim is likely to meet with his Japanese counterpart Koichiro Gemba at the UN amid diplomatic tension over Tokyo’s renewed claim to the South Korean islets of Dokdo.

“Currently, it appears that the two ministers could meet each other, but there is a possibility that the meeting cannot take place because of tight schedules,” another Seoul official said.

On Monday, Kim warned that no country should take advantage of international legal procedures for “political purposes,” a thinly veiled barb at Japan trying to take the territorial issue of Dokdo to an international court.

Kim made the remarks during his speech at a high-level UN meeting promoting the rule of law, shortly after Gemba called for greater use of the International Court of Justice to resolve international conflicts, apparently taking aim at Seoul over the issue of Dokdo.


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