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(2nd LD) Acting president calls for continued 'across-the-board pressure' to induce N.K. denuclearization

All News 16:23 January 16, 2017

(ATTN: UPDATES with new info in paras 9-15)

SEOUL, Jan. 16 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's Acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn on Monday called for continued efforts to induce North Korea's denuclearization through "across-the-board" pressure amid growing threats from the communist country.

During a meeting of top security and diplomatic officials, Hwang also stressed the need for earnest efforts to strengthen policy coordination and cooperation with the incoming U.S. government slated to take office Friday.

The meeting was held as the Seoul government seeks to squelch concerns that there could be a foreign policy vacuum in the wake of the parliamentary impeachment of President Park Geun-hye over a corruption scandal last month.

"(We) have to continue efforts to induce North Korea's denuclearization by capitalizing on the current framework of across-the-board diplomatic pressure," Hwang said, noting instability on the Korean Peninsula continues to increase due to Pyongyang's growing nuclear and missile threats.

Acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn (2nd from R) speaks during a meeting of top security and diplomatic officials at the central government complex in Seoul on Jan. 16, 2017. (Yonhap)

"We have taken special steps (to deal with nuclear threats) based on the three pillars -- the U.N. Security Council (sanctions) resolutions, stand-alone sanctions of major countries and global pressure on the North," he added.

Hwang also pointed to the possibility that the recalcitrant regime could engage in provocative acts or launch a "deceptive" campaign for dialogue in time for the swearing-in of the new administration in Washington.

The acting president, in addition, directed top officials to continue close cooperation with the United Nations and major countries to address Pyongyang's human rights violations, saying the resolution of the issue is required to open the future of a unified Korea.

The participants in the meeting included South Korea's ambassadors to the four major powers -- the United States, China, Japan and Russia.

Taking note of the ongoing shifts in the contours of security and diplomacy in Northeast Asia and beyond, participants agreed to "proactively and strategically" handle them while maintaining policy consistency, Hwang's office said in a press release.

Seoul, in addition, decided to push for high-level policy consultations with Washington as part of efforts to develop comprehensive cooperation with the incoming Republican administration on Pyongyang's denuclearization, two-way trade and other issues.

On growing diplomatic friction with Beijing over the planned deployment of a U.S. missile defense system, Seoul decided to make multi-faceted efforts to address the issue "under the principle that it is an issue of national security."

Beijing has opposed the planned deployment of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system in South Korea, arguing it could undermine China's security interests. It has recently taken a series of steps against South Korean businesses and entertainers in apparent retaliation.

As for the recently rekindled row over Tokyo's wartime sexual slavery, the government plans to maintain the position that it has to continuously develop bilateral ties while "respecting" the landmark deal in 2015 to address the issue.

Tokyo has strongly protested the recent erection of a statue symbolizing former Korean sex slaves in front of its mission in South Korea's southern city of Busan, arguing the monument violated the bilateral deal.

Seoul also decided to strive to enhance communication and trust with Moscow by expanding mutually beneficial cooperation, particularly in the development of Russia's resource-rich yet underdeveloped Far East.

Separately, Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se held a meeting of the highest-ranking diplomats to discuss "grave diplomatic and security challenges" facing the country.

In his opening speech the foreign minister said South Korea is facing four major challenges involving North Korea's nuclear issues, diplomacy with neighboring countries, continued global leadership and diplomatic issues stemming from the impeachment.

"We should carefully be watching possible consequences of the shifting dynamics among the U.S., China, Japan and Russia in order to prevent any crisis and expand opportunities," Yun said.

He also stressed that consistency and continuity should be guaranteed in the country's diplomatic and security policies despite the impeachment.

sshluck@yna.co.kr

pbr@yna.co.kr
(END)

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