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(LEAD) S. Korean leader says dialogue still key to peace on Korean Peninsula

All News 01:57 July 06, 2017

(ATTN: UPDATES with additional remarks from Moon, more information in paras 9-12; ADDS photo)

SEOUL, July 6 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in again urged North Korea to return to the dialogue table Thursday, days after the communist state test launched what it claimed to be a long range missile capable of hitting the mainland U.S.

"Right now, the situation is getting worse to create a momentum for dialogue with North Korea, and we cannot but be concerned of a possible armed conflict as the North continues to raise tension by making nuclear and missile provocations," Moon said in a meeting with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, according to Moon's presidential office, Cheong Wa Dae.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (L) speaks while meeting with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Berlin on July 5, 2017. (Yonhap)

North Korea launched what it claimed to be an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Tuesday. It marked the sixth missile test staged by Pyongyang since Moon took office on May 10.

Moon earlier called for a strong reaction by the international community and his own country, telling his security officials to seek a U.N. Security Council reaction while ordering his top military commanders to stage a joint missile exercise with U.S. forces stationed here.

The U.N. Security Council was set to convene an emergency meeting to discuss North Korea's claimed ICBM test.

South Korean and U.S. forces staged a joint missile drill after U.S. President Donald Trump also stressed a need to demonstrate to North Korea the defense readiness of the countries' combined forces, praising his South Korean counterpart for his firm reaction, a Cheong Wa Dae official said earlier.

Meeting with his German counterpart in Berlin, the South Korean president said it was imperative to increase international pressure on North Korea, but that they must still seek to engage with the reclusive state.

"We can never allow a war on the Korean Peninsula ever again. And that is the reason we must seek to resolve the issue through dialogue and peaceful means, though it is imperative that the international community further increase its pressure and impose strong sanctions" on North Korea, he said.

Moon also urged increased support from China and Russia, both considered communist allies of Pyongyang, in ridding North Korea of its nuclear ambitions.

"China and Russia must raise their awareness that the speed of the North's nuclear and missile development is fast. International sanctions and pressure may not have any practical effect without China and Russia's active participation," Moon's spokesman, Park Soo-hyun, quoted him as saying in a press release.

"I believe China especially holds the key, and I will discuss the issue in depth when I meet (Chinese President) Xi Jinping tomorrow," Moon added.

China currently accounts for more than 90 percent of North Korea's overall trade.

The South Korean leader arrived in Berlin Wednesday (Berlin time) on a two-day visit. He was also set to hold bilateral talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel later in the day, according to his office.


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