(LEAD) S. Korea, Sweden vow continued efforts to deepen security, defense ties
(ATTN: ADDS FM's meeting with Lofven, background info in paras 2-3, 6-10, photo)
SEOUL, Dec. 20 (Yonhap) -- South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo and Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven discussed the regional security situation on Friday and vowed to further boost their defense industry cooperation, Jeong's office said.
During their meeting at a Seoul hotel, Jeong thanked Sweden for its contribution to building peace on the Korean Peninsula, and the Swedish leader promised his country's continued backing for a peaceful resolution to peninsula issues, according to Seoul's defense ministry.
Tensions have heightened further in recent weeks amid growing concerns over the possible firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) amid stalled denuclearization talks with the United States.
Acknowledging their enhanced relationship in terms of defense and related industries, the two officials also pledged their continued efforts to further strengthen such ties, the ministry added.
Sweden took part in the 1950-53 Korean War by providing a field hospital, and it is a member of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission, which is in charge of inspecting the armistice agreement that halted the war. The European nation has embassies in Seoul and Pyongyang.
Later in the day, Lofven met with South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and discussed regional security issues and ways to boost collaboration in other global security matters, according to the foreign ministry here.
Explaining recent security circumstances on the Korean Peninsula, Kang asked for Sweden's continued support for peace in the region.
Lofven, in response, said that Stockholm is ready to play a role in close coordination with South Korea, stressing the importance of maintaining the momentum for dialogue with North Korea, it added.
Amid the limited progress in the denuclearization negotiations, Pyongyang has threatened to abandon dialogue for "a new way" if the U.S. fails to come up with new proposals to move talks forward by the end of this year.
As the deadline draws near, the communist country has ratcheted up tensions further by hinting it would launch an ICBM. Earlier this month, it carried out apparent rocket engine tests twice at its Sohae Satellite Launching Station, better known as the Dongchang-ri site.
Lofven is in South Korea for a three-day visit that began on Wednesday. On the first day of his trip, the prime minister held talks with President Moon Jae-in on a wide range of issues including ways to promote peace on the peninsula and boost bilateral economic and industry ties.
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