North Korea sends top diplo­mat to Rus­sia amid ten­sions

The Pak Banker - - 6international -

SEOUL: North Korea warned that it is ready for an all-out war even as it dis­patched its top diplo­mat to Rus­sia amid a flurry of re­gional diplo­matic ef­forts to defuse ten­sions over the North's deadly ar­tillery at­tack on South Korea.

North Korean For­eign Min­is­ter Pak Ui Chun left for Rus­sia, the North's of­fi­cial Korean Cen­tral News Agency said in a one-sen­tence re­port. No de­tails were given, but Pak ac­cused South Korea and the United States on Fri­day of pur­su­ing a pol­icy of hos­til­ity and con­fronta­tion and re­it­er­ated that North Korea needs its nu­clear pro­gram to fend them off.

"We once again feel con­vinced that we have made the right choice in strength­en­ing our de­fenses with the nu­clear de­ter­rent," the Rus­sian news agency In­ter­fax quoted him as say­ing in an in­ter­view.

The North's Na­tional Peace Com­mit­tee also claimed that the U.S. and South Korea are push­ing the sit­u­a­tion on the Korean penin­sula close to all­out war. "The army and peo­ple of the (North) are ready for both es­ca­lated war and an all-out war," the com­mit­tee said in a state­ment car­ried by KCNA. "They will deal mer­ci­less re­tal­ia­tory blows at the provo­ca­teurs and ag­gres­sors and blow up their ci­tadels and bases."

The harsh rhetoric comes two days af­ter North Korean leader Kim Jong Il met in Py­ongyang with Chi­nese State Coun­cilor Dai Bing­guo, Bei­jing's top for­eign pol­icy of­fi­cial. The two reached con­sen­sus on the sit­u­a­tion on the Korean penin­sula dur­ing can­did and in-depth talks, China's of­fi­cial Xin­hua News Agency said, with­out elab­o­rat­ing.

It was not clear whether the two dis­cussed the North's Nov. 23 ar­tillery at­tack on a South Korean is­land near the Koreas' dis­puted western sea border. The bar­rage killed four South Kore­ans, in­clud­ing two civil­ians.

China has been un­der in­tense in­ter­na­tional pres­sure to use its diplo­matic clout to rein in North Korea, its ally.

On Fri­day, China briefed South Korea on Dai's meet­ing with Kim through a diplo­matic chan­nel, a South Korean For­eign Min­istry of­fi­cial said Satur­day, not­ing that North Korea's po­si­tion ap­peared to re­main un­changed. He did not elab­o­rate and asked not to be iden­ti­fied be­cause of the is­sue's sen­si­tiv­ity.

In Bei­jing, top Chi­nese nu­clear en­voy Wu Dawei gave his Ja­panese coun­ter­part, Ak­i­taka Saiki, a "de­tailed" brief­ing about Dai's talks with Kim, Ja­pan's Ky­odo News agency re­ported, cit­ing Saiki.

Saiki de­clined to give fur­ther de­tails, Ky­odo said Satur­day.

Mean­while, New Mex­ico Gov. Bill Richardson is to visit North Korea this com­ing week, rais­ing the prospect of a diplo­matic res­o­lu­tion to the ten­sions. He is to de­part from the U.S. on Tues­day.

The diplo­matic trou­bleshooter has made reg­u­lar vis­its to North Korea and has also hosted North Korean of­fi­cials in New Mex­ico. He helped win the re­lease of Amer­i­cans held in North Korea in the 1990s and trav­eled to Py­ongyang in 2007 to re­cover re­mains of U.S. ser­vice­men killed in the Korean War.

The flurry of diplo­macy comes as South Korean Pres­i­dent Lee Myung-bak expressed op­ti­mism dur­ing a trip to Malaysia that the re­uni­fi­ca­tion of Korea is draw­ing near. "North Korea now re­mains one of the most bel­liger­ent na­tions in the world," Lee said in an in­ter­view pub­lished Fri­day in The Star, a Malaysian news­pa­per. But, he added, it's a "fact that the two Koreas will have to co­ex­ist peace­fully and, in the end, re­al­ize re­uni­fi­ca­tion." -Ap

ROME: A demonstrator holds a cross with a photo of Ital­ian Prime Min­is­ter Silvio Ber­lus­coni and a note read­ing 'Bad thief' dur­ing a march to protest against Silvio Ber­lus­coni's govern­ment called by the left-wing Demo­cratic Party (PD). -Ap

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.