UPDATE : 2019.7.21 SUN 10:51
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Seoul to foster multilateralism in geopolitically complex NE Asia: top diplomat

South Korea will strive to foster multilateral cooperation to build joint peace and security in Northeast Asia where complex geopolitics have so far hindered any efforts to set up a regional security entity, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said Thursday.

"There is no need to remind you that Northeast Asia lacks a well-established multilateral mechanism to resolve shared issues and promote cooperation ... (despite various proposals) none has evolved to set up a durable multilateral entity that is even remotely comparable to the EU, ASEAN and other well-established models of multilateralism in other regions," Kang said in her opening speech to the Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Forum.

She pointed out many challenges facing multilateral cooperation in the Northeast Asian region.

"The geopolitical history of the region is complex, and the neighbors can be too close for comfort at times," Kang said. North Korea's nuclear and missile threats have also preoccupied the minds of the regional players, according to the foreign ministry.

"But this is all the more the reason to take a step back and seek a wider and longer-term vision of peace and prosperity in the broader region," according to the top diplomat. "Such challenges are precisely why we should explore ways to give new life to multilateralism in the region."

"Furthermore, the growing list of transnational issues that cannot be resolved unilaterally or bilaterally -- the environment, energy security, and cyberspace, to name a few -- makes multilateral cooperation for peace and prosperity in our region all the more relevant and necessary," according to Kang.

South Korea's efforts to build "a Northeast Asia Platform for Peace and Cooperation" in this region would be focused on dealing with a comprehensive agenda spanning from economic to security issues, connecting government and nongovernmental discussions and linking participants in cyberspace for further discussion and engagement, the foreign minister said.

The semigovernmental forum opened for a two-day run on Thursday to discuss ways to build a platform for peace and security cooperation in Northeast Asia. It brings together about 200 government officials and private experts.

Also in the forum, the head of Russia's state-run diplomatic think tank said that negotiation is the only feasible solution to the problem of North Korea's nuclear program.

Bazhanov Evgeny Petrovich, director of the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry, said Russia will not tolerate North Korea's possession of nuclear weapons.

He said North Korea would want to own nuclear weapons all the more if the U.S. threatens to "destroy" it, referring to U.S. President Donald Trump's speech at the United Nations in September.

Hwi Won  edt@koeapost.com

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