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Foreign Ministry Blasted for Forum Statement Fiasco

Posted July. 28, 2008 03:31,   


The shooting death of a South Korean tourist in North Korea was omitted from the chairman’s statement of the Asian Regional Forum in Singapore at the demand of the North, a high-ranking Seoul official said yesterday.

“North Korea strongly protested mention of the incident in a statement to the Singaporean government, while [South Korea] raised issue with mention of the declaration from last year’s inter-Korean summit,” the official said. “The Singaporean government apparently deleted the two phrases at the same time.”

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said Friday, “Assistant Vice Minister Lee Yong-joon asked his Singaporean counterpart to remove the phrase about the inter-Korean declaration at the request of Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan.”

“The Singaporean Foreign Ministry accepted our request, but also removed another phrase about international cooperation on the shooting death to maintain balance as the holder of the forum’s presidency.”

A South Korean Foreign Ministry official said, “We learned Friday that North Korea filed a strong protest with Singapore but didn’t disclose this since it would’ve been inappropriate for us to leak an issue between Pyongyang and Singapore.”

Seoul, however, apparently lied over the revision of the statement to the South Korean public. South Korea admitted to the revision only after Japan’s Kyodo News said Saturday, “The chairman’s statement was revised due to North Korea’s strong demand.”

This has led to criticism that Seoul might have hid the truth if not for the report.

A senior presidential official in Seoul said yesterday, “We received the report on North Korea’s protest from the Foreign Ministry Saturday morning, when the delegation to the forum returned to [South] Korea. It would’ve been better had the ministry explained that the two phrases were deleted because both Koreas raised issue with them.”

The incident has led South Korea’s opposition camp to demand the resignation of Foreign Minister Yu, saying he “showed diplomacy lacking principles and philosophy.”

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