UPDATE : 2019.4.24 WED 15:24
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S. Korea to explore all steps to block N.K.'s nuke-tipped ICBM development

South Korea will explore all measures to prevent North Korea from perfecting a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the unification minister said Friday.

Minister Cho Myoung-gyon also said that now is not the right time to seek talks with North Korea amid tensions sparked by its sixth and most powerful nuclear test Sunday and speculation it could follow up with additional provocative acts soon.

"The government will explore every option for the policy goal of keeping North Korea from developing a nuclear-tipped ICBM," Cho told reporters. "Seoul also seeks to achieve North Korea's denuclearization peacefully."

He said that Pyongyang seems to be aiming to complete its nuclear and missile programs before coming to the negotiation table.

This photo taken Sept. 5, 2017, shows Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon. (Yonhap)

His remarks came as North Korea continued to stay silent on Seoul's July proposals for talks to reduce military tensions on their border and arrange the reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

"The government thinks that now is the time to focus on sanctions and pressure, not on dialogue with the North, though Seoul basically believes that the issue should be solved with diplomatic efforts," Cho said.

Regarding President Moon Jae-in's vision for trilateral economic cooperation with North Korea and Russia, the minister said that Seoul for now has no plan to seek cooperation with North Korea.

Moon laid out the so-called new Northern Policy, designed to expand economic cooperation with its northern states, in his address in Vladivostok on Thursday.

"Seoul will first try to find ways to cooperate with Russia," Cho said. "After the North Korea nuclear issue is resolved, the government will pursue North Korea's participation in the initiative."

Meanwhile, on North Korea's participation in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, a government official said that the outlook does not appear bright.

"However, the government will make efforts to encourage North Korea to join the games in a bid to promote peace on the Korean Peninsula," the official said.

He said that Seoul hopes to handle humanitarian assistance to North Korea separately from politics but has difficulty in doing so, given relations with other countries and public sentiment. (Yonhap)

Kim Jung-mi  edt@koreapost.com

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