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Leaders ask Kerry to go to N. Korea

US diplomacy could help ease crisis

Leaders ask Kerry to go to N. Korea
John Kerry with South Korean minister Yun Byung-se at a conference in Washington on April 2 (picture: AFP)
Stephen Hong, Seoul

April 11, 2013

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Civil and religious leaders in South Korea have called on US Secretary of State John Kerry to visit North Korea as a step toward diffusing the developing crisis in the Korean Peninsula, after threats of military action from North Korea.

During a press conference today at the Franciscan Center in Seoul, representatives from 44 civic and religious groups also urged dialogue between the North and South Korean governments. 

South Korean and US government efforts toward dialogue "could serve as a momentum to solve the crisis,” they said. 

Kerry will visit South Korea tomorrow before traveling to China on Saturday.

The press conference attendees also urged North Korea to seek dialogue, not military provocation. 

"The South Korean government should first propose a dialogue with the North Korean authorities," said Chung Hyun-back, co-representative of the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy. 

"The North Korean government should have a dialogue with South Korean businessmen at the Kaesong complex," she said.

On Monday, North Korea stopped sending its workers to Kaesong complex, effectively halting its operations. It also warned foreigners to evacuate the South for their safety.

It had also warned South Koreans at Kaesong and foreign diplomats in Pyongyang to depart North Korea before April 10. 

In early April, North Korea threatened an attack on the US with long-range nuclear missiles, in response to UN sanctions and joint military exercises between the US and the South. 

Mutual military threats and hostilities have escalated since North Korea’s rocket launch last December, press conference attendees said. 

Since 2006, the UN has banned North Korea from any ballistic missile launch and nuclear bomb development.

Father Luke Ahn Chung-suk, advisor of the Catholic Priests' Association For Justice, told at the conference that “the biggest victims of any military confrontation or hostilities would be the 70 million North and South Korean people.”

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