12/14/2006, 00.00
SOUTH KOREA – NORTH KOREA
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South Korean minister declares readiness for diplomacy in nuclear crisis

by Theresa Kim Hwa-young
The new foreign affairs minister of Seoul talked about the issue in his first official press conference. South Korea is ready to use its privileged ties with Pyongyang and Washington to try to reach a peaceful solution.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – The “primary goal” of upcoming six-party talks on nuclear disarmament is to “reach a quick, effective and pacific agreement on the basis of the 19 September joint statement”.

To attain this goal, South Korea is prepared to “exploit its role as privileged interlocutor with Pyongyang and Washington.”

This was declared by South Korea's foreign minister, Song Min-soon, when he addressed his first official news conference since being appointed: he succeeds Ban Ki-Moon, who was elected as Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Song said: "It is important for all parties to understand that the best objective to pursue is the terms of the accord of September 1998 that prevented a real arms crisis with Japan. It is surely in the best interest of North Korea too.”

Other countries concerned – United States, China, Russia, and Japan – “will be able to take measures they deem necessary.”

Song, former chief nuclear negotiator, continued to say that he could not foresee how usefulor effective the meeting slated for 19 December in Beijing would be.  "Disarmament requires a long process, and it is difficult to say how much could be achieved during a few days of negotiations," he said.

Anyhow, given its position as privileged interlocutor, South Korea “will seek to play a constructive role to improve communication with the north, making use of its friendship with Washington”.

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