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Defense Minister Han to visit France to up pressure on N. Korea

All News 11:49 June 13, 2016

SEOUL, June 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo will visit France this week as part of an ongoing effort by Seoul to increase pressure on North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program, the defense ministry said Monday.

Han will travel to France from Tuesday to Thursday to meet his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian in order to discuss the two countries' joint efforts to pressure the North as well as ways to expand bilateral defense cooperation measures, the ministry said.

Both South Korea and France have been at the forefront of the United Nations Security Council's adoption of a punitive resolution against North Korea in March following the communist country's nuclear detonation test in January and a long-range rocket launch the next month.

The North claimed the rocket launch was aimed to put an earth observation satellite into orbit, but the U.N. denounced it as a cover to test the country's long-range missile technology.

The two defense ministers plan to further cement their collaboration to get Pyongyang to halt provocations, according to the ministry.

"Han's France visit comes at the invitation of the French side that wants to discuss 'practical' measures to expand bilateral cooperation in the defense sector, which was agreed during the South Korea-France summit meeting last November," it also said.

The meeting also comes less than two weeks after the two ministers held talks on the sidelines of the regional Shangri-La Dialogue held in early June in Singapore.

In the past talks, they agreed to step up joint efforts to ensure the full implementation of international sanctions on North Korea.

Joint South Korea-France actions on international peacekeeping operations and cyberspace security will also be on the table, the ministry said.

"France is a partner that shares core values with us on the issues involving the Korean Peninsula and the globe," a ministry official said. "Han's France visit will provide a foothold for solidifying strategic defense cooperation between the countries."

The last France visit by a South Korean defense ministry was December 2007 by former Defense Minister Kim Jang-soo.

During the upcoming visit, Han plans to visit a monument marking the sacrifice of French soldiers sent to the 1950-53 Korean War and deliver a speech to students of France's military academies.

"France is South Korea's long-time friend country with this year marking 130 years of diplomatic relations," the official said.


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