(LEAD) S. Korea will ‘never be perturbed’ by N.K. threats, will deepen cooperation with U.S., Japan: official

WASHINGTON, Jan. 30 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will "never be perturbed" by continued North Korean military provocations and will continue to beef up security cooperation with the United States and Japan, Seoul's top envoy in Washington said Tuesday. Ambassador Cho Hyun-dong made the remarks amid tensions heightened by Pyongyang's unrelenting weapons tests, including the launches of several cruise missiles on Tuesday (Korea time) and of the claimed submarine-launched cruise missiles two days earlier. "At a time when North Korea's aggressive words and deeds continue, (we) will strengthen cooperation between South Korea and the U.S. and between South Korea, the U.S. and Japan," Cho told Korean reporters as he outlined his embassy's plan for diplomatic activities in 2024. "As President (Yoon Suk Yeol) has stressed, we will never be perturbed or will never bow to those provocations," he added. Cho also pointed out that Seoul will employ a "wholistic" approach entailing a mix of "deterrence, dissuasion and dialo gue" in an effort to create a "strategic environment" under which Pyongyang can opt to return to dialogue. The ambassador also vowed to keep up international cooperation to sternly deal with what he termed a North Korean effort to turn the international situation in its favor through cooperation with Russia and other means. "South Korea and the U.S. will respond to that in close communication with many friendly nations in the international community," he said. Cho characterized this year as a year marked by great uncertainties stemming in part from major elections across the world, including the U.S. presidential vote in November. "An important task for our diplomacy (this year) is to navigate well through the high waves of uncertainties that have heightened across the globe," he said. "While uncertainties shroud the international situation like a complicated maze, the South Korea-U.S. alliance is a compass for the two countries to go together toward a shared goal." To advance cooperation between Seoul a nd Washington, Cho said that the two sides are expected to seek high-level talks, including those between their top diplomats on the margins of multinational forums in the not-too-distant future. Meanwhile, Seoul and Washington share the understanding that there are no indications that Pyongyang is preparing for a full-scale war at the moment despite its bellicose rhetoric against South Korea and continued weapons tests, according to a source. But, the allies do not rule out the possibility of North Korea engaging in future provocations, especially new military provocations, the source said. Some experts have raised the possibility of the North having made a strategic decision to go to war, deepening concerns about evolving North Korean threats and raising calls for more proactive diplomatic efforts to curb those threats. Source: Yonhap News Agency