SEOUL: Ahead of critical meetings in Washington, South Korea launched a global diplomatic blitz yesterday to defuse the North Korean nuclear crisis as its communist neighbour upped its rhetoric but opened the door to possible mediation.
South Korea’s deputy foreign minister was in Moscow hoping Russia, one of isolated North Korea’s few allies, would help pressure Pyongyang to back down.
And Seoul also said it will send a top presidential envoy to the United States for more talks later this week.
A separate team of South Korean diplomats was already expected to unveil a compromise solution to the United States and Japan today and tomorrow, when the three allies meet in Washington to chart a joint strategy on North Korea.
Japan and the United States have also agreed to pursue a diplomatic end, Japan’s Foreign Ministry said.
Meanwhile, North Korea’s top military brass have vowed to increase the communist army’s combat readiness and have accused the United States of trying to disarm it.
Leaders of the Korean People’s Army convened on Saturday in Pyongyang, according to the official Korean Central News Agency.
The leaders “underscored the need to bring about a fresh turn in increasing the combat capability of its units,’’ KCNA said.
A separate KCNA report yesterday blamed the United States for trying to “disarm’’ the isolated country with demands that North Korea scrap its nuclear programmes, and called the United States the “main obstacle’’ of Korean reunification.
North Korea, however, left open the possibility of other countries mediating the dispute – an apparent nod to Seoul’s attempts to push for a diplomatic resolution.
Still, diplomatic efforts to resolve the issue picked up pace yesterday.
At meetings in Moscow, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s top Asian expert, Alexander Losyukov, agreed that it was important to get all sides to the negotiating table.
Solutions would have to be worked out “so that North Korea doesn’t feel insecure and will be able to make a welcome step and give up its nuclear program,’’ the Interfax news agency quoted Losyukov as saying.
South Korea’s deputy foreign minister said Russian assistance was essential.
“Russia’s good relations with North Korea help create an efficient channel for dialogue,’’ Kim Hang-kyung told reporters before yesterday’s talks in Moscow, according to ITAR-Tass news agency.
Details of the settlement plan South Korea intends to present this week in Washington were scant.
But media reports suggested the proposal would require concessions from both Washington and Pyongyang.
Yesterday, Seoul announced it would send national security adviser Yim Sung-joon to the United States later in the week for more talks on ending the crisis. – AP
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