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    South Korean President Park Geun-Hye speaks during her New Year press conference at the presidential Blue House in Seoul on January 12, 2015

    South Korean President Visits Russia Amid 'Arms Race With N Korea'

    © AFP 2019 / POOL / JUNG YEON-JE
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    President of South Korea Park Geun-hye has come to Russia for the first time. She confirmed her intention to openly discuss with President Vladimir Putin the North Korean issue. In an interview with Sputnik, expert at the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) Aleksander Ermakov discussed the current arms race in the region.

    On the eve of the visit of Park Geun-hye to Russia’s Far East, where she plans to meet with Vladimir Putin, the Korean agency Yonhap reported that the President of South Korea intends to use the forthcoming meeting with the Russian leader to put pressure on North Korea to end its nuclear program.

    She confirmed her intention in an interview with Sputnik. Park Geun-hye's visit to Russia comes amid new tensions on the Korean peninsula. According to experts, there is a real arms race going on in the region.

    According to experts, the reaction of the South suggests that Seoul is not ready for dialogue with Pyongyang.

    There are unprecedented large-scale exercises, accompanied by aggressive rhetoric, which the President of South Korea calls a “natural response” to threats by Kim Jong-un to launch a nuclear strike on Seoul.

    However, there are reports suggesting that South Korea is interested in placing a second THAAD complex on its territory. The country also mulls equipping Korean navy destroyer Sejong the Great (DDG-991) with SM-3 interceptor missiles. There are also reports suggesting interest in buying Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft.

    Looking at this “arms race in the region” Aleksander Ermakov told Sputnik that these steps suggest that South Korea is not interested in de-escalating the situation.

    “If the South wanted dialogue, it would not go to acquiring THAAD,” Ermakov said.

    However, the President of South Korea in her interview with Sputnik said that the placement of THAAD is a self-defense measure and that there is no reason to direct THAAD against any third country.

    Yet, the experts put her statement into question. Senior researcher of the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies (RISS) Vladimir Svedentsov said, “If such a system is established in South Korea, it will be directed primarily against China and Russia because its range will be extended to the Chinese territory and of course, towards the Russian Far East.”

    “There is discernible American interest in this situation. The goal of the Republic of Korea is unification of Korea. However, the belligerent rhetoric will not help them bring this blessed hour any closer. Here it is necessary to act consistently and to resolve all issues through negotiations or through economic cooperation,” Svedentsov added.

    The South Korean president was asked by a Sputnik correspondent what the role of Russia is in the settlement of the Korean Peninsula, to which Park Geun-hye said that Russia being a permanent member of the UN Security Council can play a leading role in sanctions and put pressure on North Korea.

    However, during the Vladivostok forum the South Korean president will hardly be able to avoid answering questions regarding the placement of the American missile defense system near Russia's borders.

    “Our interest is not someone's victory but stability and peace on our borders. At the same time we have strong economic ties with South Korea and we are interested in preserving these ties,” Ermakov told Sputnik.

    Russia has repeatedly requested that the Korean conflict be solved at the negotiating table. Russia has also offered several times to participate in economic projects, such as Khasan-Rajin, but the agreements reached during such meetings still remain unfulfilled.

    Unfortunately, judging by the statements of Park Geun-hye on the eve of the meeting with the Russian leader, no breakthrough is expected this time either.

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    Tags:
    official visit, arms race, interview, conflict, economic cooperation, Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), Park Geun-hye, South Korea
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