Foreign minister preps UN speech

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Foreign minister preps UN speech

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In a speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan will raise the importance of understanding history correctly and the issue of women’s human rights during World War II, Seoul’s foreign ministry said yesterday.

“There will be a mention, in some form, about the importance of perceiving truthful history and the issue of women’s wartime rights in Minister Kim’s [UN General Assembly] speech,” said Cho Tai-young, the ministry’s spokesman, yesterday. “We will have to wait and see about the specific form of the contents.”

Kim will deliver his speech Friday New York time.

Though the spokesman did not directly refer to Korean women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during World War II, that is what the Foreign Ministry will be alluding to at the UN.

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It will be the first time the Korean government has raised the issue directly or indirectly at the UN General Assembly.

When talking about history, Kim is also expected to be referring to Japan’s claim over Dokdo, Korea’s easternmost islets.

On Wednesday, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda told the UN General Assembly that his country has “consistently” accepted international law, a message aimed at Korea. Seoul has flatly rejected Tokyo’s request to take the issue of Dokdo to the International Court of Justice, saying that there is “no territorial dispute regarding the islets because they belong to Korea historically, geographically and by international law.”

“The Korean government is not denying the fact that the rule of law is an important value,” Cho from the Foreign Ministry said. “But we do think that the rule of law and the process of international law should not be used politically.”

Japan is also in a territorial dispute with China over the Senkaku Islands, referred to as Diaoyu by the Chinese. Noda reaffirmed his hard-line stance on Japan’s sovereignty over the islets by telling reporters they are “an integral part of Japanese territory in the light of history and of international law.”

Beijing immediately criticized Tokyo.

“China is extremely dissatisfied with and sternly opposes the Japanese leader’s obstinate persistence in his incorrect views regarding the Diaoyu islands,” said Qin Gang, spokesman at China’s Foreign Ministry.

On Monday, Foreign Minister Kim met with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi on the sidelines of the UN meeting and shared a common view that they should give the world a “truthful understanding of history.”

By Lee Eun-joo [angie@joongang.co.kr]

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