SEOUL, March 21 (Itar-Tass) — South Korea will deal sternly with North Korea’s planned rocket launch, but will keep its door open to talks with Pyongyang, South Korean Minister of Unification Yu Woo-ik said on Wednesday.
South Korea will deal with it sternly, and will closely coordinate its actions with the international community, the minister said. He did not say, however, whether Seoul intends to take that issue to the United Nations Security Council if Pyongyang goes ahead with the launch, the Yonhap news agency reports on Wednesday.
As for the launch, the official Pyongyang maintains that it will be made within the framework of the program for peaceful uses of outer space. The launch will be timed to mark the 100th birth anniversary of DPRK founder Kim Il Sung.
Resolutions passed earlier by the UN Security Council ban any activity in North Korea that is related to its ballistic missile program or any nuclear activity. The surprise statement of the North came shortly after talks between the USA and North Korea. Under the American-North Korean agreements reached in Beijing, the North has agreed to impose a temporary moratorium on its missile and nuclear tests and freeze its uranium-enrichment facilities in exchange for 240,000 tons of food aid from the United States.
The US has warned North Korea that it considers the planned launch “highly provocative” and breaking the deal, Yonhap reports.
The minister of unification expressed deep regrets over the planned launch, but stressed that he had not given up hope for improving relations with North Korea. “We will keep our door open to dialogue. I hope the North will respond to our sincere efforts,” the news agency quoted him as saying.
Yu Woo-ik also stressed that South Korea remains the only country that can help revive the North’s economy.