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Latest update : 2017-10-23

Seoul: 'Time running out to prevent a nuclear N. Korea'

In an interview with FRANCE 24, South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha discussed the nuclear crisis with neighbouring North Korea. She stressed that "there must not be another war on the Korean peninsula". The top diplomat warned that time was "running out" to stop North Korea becoming a nuclear power, but insisted that there was "still time" to avert this scenario.

South Korea's foreign minister also told FRANCE 24 that US President Donald Trump’s bellicose remarks on North Korea are "an indication of his strong desire to find a solution" to the crisis. She added that the recent military exercises in the peninsula are designed to "pressure" Pyongyang to return to the negotiating table.

However, Kang Kyung-wha rejected the proposal broached by Donald Trump and the main South Korean opposition party to bring back tactical US nuclear weapons, which were withdrawn in 1991, calling it "not the best option".

Asked what North Korean leader Kim Jong-un may be thinking, South Korea's top diplomat described the regime in Pyongyang as "very insecure". She explained that the nuclear and missile programmes are its way of trying to gain "leverage", in order to be "in a position of strength when, ultimately, the time comes to sit at the table".

The South Korean foreign minister warned that "time is running out" to prevent North Korea becoming a nuclear power, but insisted that there was "still time".

Finally, she stressed that her government does not seek "regime collapse" in North Korea and held out the offer of better relations with its neighbour. "Should North Korea change course, there is an opportunity for dialogue," she said.

By Marc PERELMAN

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