06 September 2017

News Story: Seoul officials leaning towards military measures than dialogue with N.K. - defense chief

SEOUL, Sept. 4 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's top security officials are beginning to lean towards strengthening military measures rather than dialogue with North Korea in response to the wayward regime's latest nuclear test, Seoul's defense minister said Monday.

His remarks came amid growing calls for President Moon Jae-in to make a course correction of his rapprochement policy that seeks to address the decadeslong nuclear standoff through a delicate mixture of sanctions and dialogue.

"During a National Security Council meeting (held shortly after the nuke test Sunday), views converged on a direction that strengthens the military standoff (for now), rather than (pursuing) the Berlin declaration or dialogue," Defense Minister Song Young-moo told a parliamentary session.

The Berlin initiative refers to Moon's policy that pursues Pyongyang's denuclearization with a security guarantee and economic and diplomatic incentives while seeking a peace treaty and dismissing the prospect of forced unification.

During the session, Song also said that during his recent talks with U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis, he demanded the U.S. deploy its strategic assets to Korea on a "regular" basis. He made the demand, citing local politicians' calls for the redeployment of U.S. tactical nukes.

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