SA ‘concerned’ about rising Korean tensions

2013-04-09 15:19

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South Africa is concerned about rising tensions on the Korean peninsula, Deputy International Relations Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim has said.

“[We] call on all sides to refrain from any action or rhetoric that would aggravate the already tense situation,” he told reporters in Pretoria today.

“We believe in the long-term that a political solution carries greater weight than a military solution – one may win the war, but lose the peace.”

As South Africa’s foreign policy was the pursuit of peace and security, the situation on the Korean peninsula was “deeply concerning”.

Ebrahim said the South African embassy in South Korea was watching the situation to assess whether it was safe for South Africans to remain in that country.

“We have asked our people there to monitor our website. If the situation arises and we feel that there is need for the South African citizens to leave South Korea we will duly inform them, but at the moment I don’t think any country has asked its citizens to leave South Korea,” he said.

“If there is a need for South Africans to leave we will give them all the consulate assistance to leave. At the moment, we have not asked South Africans not to travel to that region yet.”

CNN reported that North Korea issued its latest dispatch of ominous rhetoric earlier today, telling foreigners in South Korea that they should take steps to secure shelter, or evacuate, to protect themselves in the event of a conflict on the Korean peninsula.

The message came as Japan set up missile defences in Tokyo, and North Korean workers failed to turn up for work in the industrial complex jointly operated by North and South Korea.

On the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ebrahim said there was not yet an indication from the defence department on the number of soldiers heading to that country.

“The ministry of defence will in due course decide what should be the size of our contingent in DRC. But that is a tactical issue; in time I presume that the ministry of defence will decide the [number] of our troops.”

It was unclear who would lead the mission assigned by the UN’s Security Council.

“We had preferred that [the mission] be led by someone from the continent, or someone from the region. But I don’t think a final decision has been made on who should lead the forces,” he said.

The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) announced on Sunday that South African troops would be part of the intervention force in eastern DRC. The force was expected to face rebel group M23.

The announcement raised concerns following the recent deaths of 13 soldiers in the Central African Republic.

However, the SANDF said the recent developments in the CAR could not stop South Africa from being part of the peace-keeping mission.

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