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New vice unification minister vows to make N.K. give up nukes

All News 19:10 June 08, 2016

SEOUL, June 8 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's new vice unification minister said Wednesday that he will do his best to prod North Korea into giving up its nuclear weapons program.

Kim Hyung-suk said at his inaugural ceremony that the country should ramp up efforts to make North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons while keeping the principle of building trust between the two Koreas.

"North Korea's nuclear weapons program poses a threat to South Korea's security and also serves as the biggest stumbling block to an improvement in inter-Korean ties and peaceful unification," Kim said.

Earlier in the day, President Park Geun-hye conducted a small-scale reshuffle of vice ministerial officials and presidential aides including Kim.

Kim, a former presidential secretary on unification, replaced Hwang Boo-gi, who served as the country's vice unification minister for about 18 months from November 2014.

The new vice minister told reporters that denuclearization should be a top priority when it comes to the resumption of inter-Korean dialogue.

"We do not say that we will not hold talks with North Korea," Kim said. "But we believe that if there is inter-Korean dialogue, it should be held in a proper manner and it should deal with core issues."

North Korea has proposed holding inter-Korean military talks, but Seoul has rejected the North's offer as a propaganda ploy without sincerity. Seoul instead countered that Pyongyang should declare its intent to give up its nuclear program.

The senior official stressed that now is the time to focus on enforcing sanctions against the North in a bid to make North Korea choose the path toward denuclearization.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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