August 16, 2017 09:22
President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday sent a warning to hawkish U.S. officials that only South Korea can decide regarding any military action against North Korea.
Speaking at a ceremony marking the 72nd anniversary of liberation from Japanese occupation, Moon said, "War must never break out again on the peninsula. Without the consent of [South Korea], no country can determine to take military action."
Describing the North Korean nuclear threat as "the biggest challenge" facing South Korea, Moon said his government will work closely with the U.S. to resolve the security crisis.
"The government will do all it can to prevent a war from breaking out," he said. "No matter what twists and turns we suffer, the North Korea nuclear problem must be addressed in a peaceful manner."
He urged North Korea to halt all provocations immediately and return to the dialogue table. He pledged to assist the North in the process and promised South Korea's allies will do the same.
"Let me make it clear: We do not want North Korea to collapse. We will neither pursue reunification by absorbing the North nor in an artificial way," he said, adding that any integration needs to be carried out "in a peaceful and democratic manner to which each and every Korean agrees."
He added that he dates the establishment of the Republic of Korea not to 1948, when the South Korean government was formed, but to 1919, when a provisional government was set up in China during Japan's annexation of Korea. He said next year therefore marks the 100th anniversary of the Korean republic.
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