31 Mar 2013

NZ Foreign Minister urges North Korea to stop threats

8:52 pm on 31 March 2013

New Zealand Foreign Minister, Murray McCully, is urging North Korea to stop its threats against South Korea.

North Korea announced on Saturday it was entering a 'state of war' with the South and promised stern physical actions against any provocative act.

The reclusive state has threatened attacks almost daily since it was sanctioned by the United Nations for a third nuclear test on 12 February.

Mr McCully says the latest threats are unconstructive and risk aggravating tensions.

He says the Government does not want to see further set backs to peace and stability in the region, and it's urging North Korea to abide by its obligations under United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Claim US may be trying to thwart Korean peace effort

An expert in Asian politics says the United States may be deliberately thwarting South Korean attempts to engage peacefully with its neighbours in the North.

Tim Beal, a former lecturer in Asian studies at Victoria University in New Zealand, says North Korea could be reacting to the annual US-South Korean military exercises that have taken place.

Dr Beal is also the vice-chairman of the New Zealand-Democratic People's Republic of Korea Society, which says on its website it aims to increase awareness, understanding and contact between the two countries.

He believes the Americans may be trying to prevent South Korea's new president Park Geun-hye from fulfilling her election promise of re-engaging with the North.

Dr Beal says Ms Park seems to be waiting for the military exercises to finish before trying to defuse the tension.

New Zealander Todd Morris who is based in Jeonju, three hours south of Seoul in South Korea, says threats from the North are a regular occurrence and are not taken seriously.

A 'state of war' has technically been in place for the last 60 years and Mr Morris says it is business as usual for residents.

He says threats likes this seem to happen every other week and most news media in South Korea are not covering them.