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Asia-Pacific defense officials, experts to meet in Seoul next month

All Headlines 11:51 August 30, 2016

SEOUL, Aug. 30 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's defense ministry on Tuesday said it will hold a regional security forum next month, with focus placed on North Korea's provocations and feasible countermeasures that can be taken.

In the fifth Seoul Defense Dialogue (SDD) to be held from Sept. 7-9, participants from the Asia-Pacific region will exchange their views on the North's evolving nuclear and missile threats, and joint efforts among regional countries to counter such security challenges, the Ministry of National Defense said in a statement.

"Further military threats are likely on the Korean Peninsula following last week's test-firing of a submarine-launched ballistic missile and a nuclear test in January," Vice Defense Minister Hwang In-moo said in a press briefing.

"The security dialogue is very timely and will offer defense officials and experts from 33 countries and five international organizations a good opportunity to share their views on outstanding security issues across the region."

Participants include U.S. Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy David Shear; Douglas Paal, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; and Kim Hong-kyun, special representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs at South Korea's foreign ministry, the statement said.

Officials from global organizations, such as the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), plan to attend the forum. In particular, Ahmet Uzumcu, the director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), will deliver a message seeking peace and stability on the peninsula divided since the three-year Korean War ended in 1953 with armistice, not a peace treaty.

This year, four central European countries -- the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia -- and two African countries -- Uganda and Ethiopia -- will send their representatives to the forum for the first time, reflecting South Korea's growing diplomatic ties with those countries, the statement said.

But China, which took part in the past four forums, is not expected to participate in the forum this year as the ministry has "not received any official notice" from the neighboring country.

If China decides to skip the forum, it will be widely accepted as part of its objection toward the planned deployment of an advanced U.S. antimissile system in South Korea by 2017, a ministry official said.

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr
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