Turtle Bay

Russia presses for UN role in mediating crisis in the Koreas

The Russian government called today for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council to try to ease a standoff between North Korea and South Korea, and launched an initiative to enlist U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki moon‘s support in trying to calm tensions between the  Korean rivals. The move came as South Korea prepared ...

The Russian government called today for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council to try to ease a standoff between North Korea and South Korea, and launched an initiative to enlist U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki moon‘s support in trying to calm tensions between the  Korean rivals.

The move came as South Korea prepared for an artillery drill on an island near the North Korean border. North Korea said it would retaliate against the south if it proceeds with the drill, which was delayed today because of poor weather.

The United States, which is in the presidency of the Security Council, has backed the south’s plan to carry out a military drill. At Russia’s request, it has scheduled a Security Council meeting for  Sunday morning at 11 A.M.

The Russian initiative comes nearly a month after North Korean troops opened fire on Yeonpyeong Island on November 23, killing four South Korean nationals. South Korea recently announced plans to carry out a live artillery drill in the waters southwest of Yeonpeong between December 18-21.

Russia began criculating a confidential draft statement to Security Council. The draft, which was obtained by Turtle Bay, calls "on all parties concerned to excercise maximum restraint" and stressed the need to undertake steps to de-escalate the conflict. It also requests the U.N. secretary general dispatch a special envoy to Seoul and Pyongyang to "consult on urgent measures to settle peacefully the current crisis situation in the Korean Peninsula."

"We are seriously concerned about possible further escalation of tensions on the Korean peninsula," said Russia’s U.N. envoy Vitaly I. Churkin, according to Reuters. The situation there, he added, "directly affects the national security interests of the Russian Federation."

Ban, South Korea’s former foreign minister,  has long sought a role in mediating the dispute on the Korean Pensinsula. But he has faced resistance from the key powers  — including China, the United States and Japan — managing stalled political talks with North Korea.

Here is a copy of the Russian draft statement

 

Draft Press Statement of the President of the Security Council

 The Members of the Security Council have considered in an emergency meeting of the Council on 18 December 2010 a dangerous aggravation of the situation in the Korean peninsula. They heard a briefing by _____________________.

The Members of the Security Council called upon all parties concerned to exercise maximum restraint and to avoid any steps which could cause a further escalation of tension in the Korean peninsula and the entire region.

The Members of the Security Council stressed the need to undertake efforts to ensure a de-escalation of tension in the relations between the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, resumption of dialogue and resolution of all problems dividing them exclusively through peaceful diplomatic means.

The Members of the Security Council requested the Secretary-General of the United Nations to dispatch without delay his special representative to the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to consult on urgent measures to settle peacefully the current crisis situation in the Korean peninsula.

The Members of the Security Council also requested the Secretary-General of the United Nations to stay in close coordination with other countries concerned in this regard.

 Follow me on Twitter @columlynch

Colum Lynch is a senior staff writer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @columlynch

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