Vice unification minister highlights role of UNC amid heightened inter-Korean tensions

SEOUL, A senior official at South Korea's unification ministry in charge of inter-Korean affairs emphasized the importance of the U.N. Command (UNC) on Wednesday as North Korea continues to dial up tensions on the Korean Peninsula after defining South Korea as its "primary foe." Vice Unification Minister Moon Seoung-hyun made the remarks as he attended a roundtable session of ambassadors from UNC member countries to brief them on the government's unification policy, the ministry said. Moon said the government takes the latest developments sternly and vowed to bolster cooperation with UNC member countries and the wider international community to contain the North's provocations and realize the vision of a free and peaceful Korean Peninsula, it added. During the policy briefing, the ambassadors denounced the North for using its scarce resources for weapons development and agreed on the need for stronger cooperation within the international community to induce a change, according to the ministry. The sessio n came as North Korea has been ramping up tensions on the Korean Peninsula in the new year -- an election year for South Korea and the United States -- with weapons tests and harshly worded rhetoric. During a year-end party meeting, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un defined inter-Korean ties as relations between "two states hostile to each other" and vowed to "suppress" South Korea's whole territory in the event of a contingency. The UNC has jurisdiction over the area that separates the two Koreas. As part of efforts to strengthen cooperation with the U.S.-led multinational command, Unification Minister Kim Yung-ho met with UNC chief Gen. Paul LaCamera at the command headquarters in November. It marked the first such trip by a unification minister. Source: Yonhap News Agency