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(Yonhap Interview) Poland opposes military options against N.K., wants to give more time to sanctions

All Headlines 19:28 October 19, 2017

By Koh Byung-joon

SEOUL, Oct. 19 (Yonhap) -- Military options against North Korea should be the "last resort," a senior Polish diplomat said Thursday, urging the U.S. and other key countries to focus on diplomatic efforts up until the last minute.

Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Marek Magierowski also called on China and Russia to do more to help make the current U.N. sanctions yield the intended effects of putting pressure on the North to give up its nuclear and missile programs.

(Yonhap Interview) Poland opposes military options against N.K., wants to give more time to sanctions - 1

"Poland wouldn't like to see the Korean Peninsula in flames because that will be the end," he said. "I can't imagine the consequences. So we do believe military options are absolutely the last resort."

"I can't imagine a situation in which these options would be triggered. I am convinced that we have to use all nonmilitary arguments and nonmilitary measures to change the situation," he added.

Magierowski, who is also in charge of his country's economic diplomacy, was in Seoul for policy consultations with the Seoul government on a wide range of issues.

Tensions have been running high over the North's nuclear and missile tests and a war of words between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, both of whom have threatened military actions.

He called for more patience to see if the existing U.N. Security Council resolutions will pay off, as sanctions usually take time before a targeted country feels a real pinch.

"I will wait patiently for the outcome of those newly adopted resolutions," he said. "We have to wait because the impacts are never immediate. Let's wait and let's monitor the situation closely," he said.

Poland, he said, has faithfully enforced the existing U.N. Security Council resolutions and has sometimes taken the lead in putting more pressure on the North.

They include its early decision not to renew working permits for North Korean laborers in the European country at a time when they are viewed as a source of money necessary for the Kim Jong-un regime to advance its missile and nuclear development programs.

"A long time ago, we decided not to issue more working permits for North Korean workers coming to Poland. So as soon as the valid working permits expire, we will not renew them," he said. "In a certain period of time, all North Korean workers will have to leave Poland."

According to data provided by its government, the number of North Korean laborers in the country stood at 700-800 in 2016 but was reduced to 550 last year and to around 400 this year. The current figure accounts for 0.4 percent of all North Korean workers in overseas countries, it claimed.

Poland is known for its relatively long history of close relations with North Korea. It currently runs its embassy in Pyongyang.

Asked whether Warsaw could join international efforts to isolate North Korea by cutting its decadeslong diplomatic ties, Magierowski said that his government has no plan to do so at this moment but noted that it will "reduce our exposure and our contacts with the North Korean regime."

He added its diplomatic mission in Pyongyang can be used as a "very valuable channel of communication" with the reclusive North.

"Our presence in North Korea is valuable. It's also precious for other countries, for South Korea, for the U.S. and for other partners in the European Union as well," he said.

The Polish diplomat called for more efforts by China, along with Russia, to make the current sanctions regime more effective and eventually help bring the North out to the negotiating table.

"Actually the ball is in the court of China and Russia, mostly in China," he said. "We not only have to focus on North Korea but also have to convince the Chinese partners."

"They have to work arm in arm with the international community, with South Korea, with the U.S., with Poland and with the European Union to make the situations more palatable and to persuade the North Korean regime to sit down at the table and negotiate a decent deal," he said.


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