Key envoys to discuss diplomatic, security challenges

17-Jan-2017 Intellasia | Korea Times | 6:00 AM Print This Post

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Sunday it will convene a meeting of key ambassadors this week to discuss diplomatic and security challenges facing the nation.

The participants of the rare meeting will be Ambassador to the United States Ahn Ho-young and Ambassador to China Kim Jang-soo as well as mission chiefs to Japan, Russia and the United Nations.

Foreign minister Yun Byung-se also told a parliamentary session, Friday, that a small meeting will be held soon regarding the harsh challenges facing Northeast Asia.

Ministry officials said issues to be discussed at the meeting include North Korea’s latest threat to test-fire an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and the deepening diplomatic rows with China as well as Japan.

The ambassadors will also discuss the policy direction in preparation for the incoming Donald Trump administration that will take office this week as Trump becoming the US president is likely to spur considerable changes on the diplomatic and trade fronts.

In his New Year’s message, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un claimed Pyongyang was in the final stages of preparations for a test launch of an ICBM capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. The North’s KN-08 road-mobile ICBM with a range of more than 10,000 kilometers is capable, in theory, of hitting targets on the US mainland.

In protest against Seoul’s decision made in July last year to deploy a US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system on its soil, China has taken various retaliatory actions including banning K-pop and K-drama stars, and reducing bilateral exchanges and cooperation.

Beijing believes that the X-band radar of the battery could be used to spy on its military capabilities despite Seoul and Washington’s consistent assurances that the system is designed to defend against North Korean threats only.

Seoul and Tokyo have also been at odds over the erecting of a second girl statue outside Japan’s Consulate general office in the port city of Busan. The statue represents victims of Japan’s sexual enslavement of Korean women before and during World War II.

As part of its retaliatory steps, Tokyo ordered its ambassador to Korea as well as its consul-general in Busan to come home earlier this month. The neighbouring country also announced a halt to the ongoing negotiations to resume a Japan-Korea currency swap deal and the postponement of bilateral high-level economic discussions.

Diplomatic sources said that the summons of key ambassadors is a first in the history of the foreign ministry and totally different from the annual meeting of the heads of overseas diplomatic missions around March.

“The planned meeting reflects how seriously Seoul perceives the current diplomatic and security situations,” a source said.

Minister Yun already said in his New Year’s message that challenges facing the country are the gravest since the end of the Cold War, signaling that Seoul is gearing up for difficult times ahead.


Category: Korea

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