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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

South Korea sends letter to North calling for calm

RIA Novosti

11/03/2009 13:19 MOSCOW, March 11 (RIA Novosti) - South Korea called upon the North on Wednesday to defuse tensions, in a letter sent to the country's titular head of state, Kim Yong-nam, and to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, South Korean media reported on Wednesday.

South Korean Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Ho-nyoun stated in his letter that parliament on March 2 passed a resolution on calming tensions with Pyongyang, and seeking political dialogue.

According to Kim Ho-nyoun's letter, Seoul believes that Pyongyang needs to take measures to lower tensions, and the UN should actively support the efforts.

"The Republic of Korea's National Assembly is concerned that the rise in tensions between the North and South is reflecting negatively in keeping peace on the Korean Peninsula and the development of inter-Korean relations," Kim Ho-nyoun's letter reads.

Tensions are currently high in the region, over reports that the North is planning what it calls a launch of a telecommunications satellite, but which the U.S. and South Korea suspect to be long-range Taepodong-2 missile from the newly constructed Musudan-ri launch pad on the country's northeast coast.

Relations between Seoul and the communist North have deteriorated since South Korean President Lee Myung-bak took office in February 2008.

After coming to power last February, Lee said he would review agreements reached at the 2000 and 2007 inter-Korean summits, and demand more in return from the North for the economic support provided by Seoul.

Last week, North Korea said it could not guarantee the safety of South Korean civilian aircraft during joint March 9-20 U.S.-South Korean military exercises in the Sea of Japan (East Sea).

North Korea's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, also said the Korean Peninsula was on the brink of war because of joint military training operations by Seoul and Washington.

The South Korean military said earlier that about 26,000 U.S. troops and an aircraft carrier would participate in the drill, code-named Key Resolve and Foal Eagle. There were no reports of how many South Korean troops are participating.

The U.S. and South Korea have said the 12-day drills are for defensive purposes.

North Korea said recently it would scrap all political and military agreements with South Korea, including a non-aggression pact, over its neighbor's "hostile intent." The two countries are still technically at war as their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty.

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