- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 12, 2003

SEOUL, South Korea, Feb. 12 (UPI) — EU security chief Javier Solana on Wednesday stated opposition to sanctions against North Korea, saying they would further raise nuclear tensions.

Solana told a news conference that he would send a high-level delegation to North Korea to persuade the leadership to drop its nuclear ambitions.

Solana’s voice against sanctions came just ahead of a key vote on North Korea nuclear crisis by the governing body of the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog. The International Atomic Energy Agency is expected to adopt a toughly worded resolution on North Korea that would take the nuclear issue before the U.N. Security Council, which could then impose sanctions.

North Korea has warned that it would view any sanctions as “a declaration of war,” and no longer recognize the U.N. Security Council.

Asked about his position on possible sanctions against North Korea, Solana said sanctions on North Korea could be counter-productive.

“I don’t think it is the moment to do sanctions,” said Solana, the EU’s foreign policy and security chief. “I do think that sanctions will contribute to the opposite of what we wish to obtain — the defusing of the crisis.”

“Whatever is done (in the Security Council), it should not contribute to escalation (of the crisis). It should contribute to de-escalation,” he said.

Solana’s remarks came after he met with South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and President-elect Roh Moo-hyun, who both oppose sanctions on North Korea. They believe that economic sanctions or military action could backfire and result in catastrophe on the Korean peninsula.

In a meeting with Solana, Kim called for the EU security chief to travel to Pyongyang in a bid to defuse the crisis. “It would help achieve an early resolution to the North Korean nuclear issue and stabilization of the Korean peninsula if a high-level EU delegation visited Pyongyang,” Kim told Solana.

Kim said North Korea is aware that only talks with the United States could bring it the security guarantee and economic assistance that it desires.

North Korea said Wednesday it was seeking a peaceful resolution to its nuclear crisis with the United States, but would retaliate against any attack.

Solana said he would send a team to North Korea to seek a peaceful resolution to the crisis. “We are finding appropriate moment and date so that the mission will take place,” the EU official said.

Officials said the visit would take place within a month.

“The EU has been showing its interest in keeping peace on the Korean peninsula and will continue giving assistance to help maintain peace,” Solana said. European and other countries are trying to create a “multilateral framework” to help facilitate talks between Washington and Pyongyang, he said.

Solana arrived Monday from Tokyo, where he met with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and other key administration officials. In Tokyo, Solana said that Japan opposed international sanctions against North Korea.

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