North declined invite to security forum in Seoul

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North declined invite to security forum in Seoul

The Ministry of National Defense will host an international security forum in Seoul next week to discuss a wide range of issues, including denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, defense officials said on Tuesday.

The seventh annual Seoul Defense Dialogue is set to take place from Sept. 12 to 14 with about 250 people from 49 countries and four international organizations, including the United Nations and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, attending.

North Korea declined to attend the forum despite an invitation from South Korea, one source said. The invitation was extended during talks between generals from both countries last month.

Under the theme “Sustainable Peace: From Conflict to Cooperation,” the forum will include sessions on maritime security, cybersecurity, regional confidence building, prevention of violent extremism, disaster relief and other issues.

“The Ministry of National Defense will endeavor to make the Seoul Defense Dialogue a practical security forum striving to promote trust in the Asia-Pacific region and contributing to regional peace and stability,” the ministry said in a press release.

At the opening ceremony, Chung Eui-yong, the Blue House national security adviser, will deliver a keynote speech on the South Korean government’s ongoing efforts to foster peace on the peninsula. His speech will follow congratulatory remarks by Defense Minister Song Young-moo.

On the sidelines of the forum, Seoul will host talks with vice ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to seek their cooperation in South Korea’s “New Southern Policy” aimed at deepening ties in South and Southeast Asia.

Seoul will also hold a separate meeting with representatives from six Central Asian countries, including Mongolia, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, to discuss South Korea’s policy in the region and expand defense cooperation with them.

Additional bilateral meetings with more than 20 countries to enhance defense cooperation will also be held.

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