South Korean decision on UN vote still under wraps

Outgoing ambassador is diplomatic and noncommittal at a farewell event in Jerusalem.

September 2, 2011 01:35
1 minute read.
A man walks past a sign of a S. Korean flag, Seoul

south korean flag_311 reuters. (photo credit: Reuters / Lee Jae Won)


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South Korea is playing its cards very close to its chest as to which way it will vote in the event that a resolution on the establishment of a Palestinian state comes up on the agenda of the UN General Assembly this month.

Outgoing Korean Ambassador Young Sam Ma, at the conclusion of a farewell address at the Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem on Wednesday night, was diplomatic and noncommittal when asked how his country will vote.

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Ma, who was speaking under the auspices of the Israel Council on Foreign Relations, said that South Korea is looking at both the Israeli and the Palestinian positions, and watching to see what is happening. His hope was that America and the European Union will be able to persuade the parties to return to the negotiating table before the General Assembly session and thereby avoid a confrontation at the UN.

“Direct dialogue is the only way,” he said.

If a resolution is on the table, he added, there will be a lot of discussion in which South Korea will participate, and in so doing will try to find a way towards a reasonable solution.

In the course of his address, Ma spoke of North Korea’s nuclear proliferation.

“We face the same dangers from North Korea as you face from Iran,” he told his Israeli audience. The North Koreans he said, can now make nuclear weapons with enriched uranium and North Korean missiles can reach the northern part of North America.

The North Koreans are now selling some of this technology to the Middle East, he added.

Ma, who is an unabashed admirer of Israel, suggested that Israelis should not take the finds in the Tamir and Leviathan gas fields too seriously.

At best, he said, they will be beneficial for 20 or 30 years. He urged Israelis to look back at the miracle they created without natural resources, and not to get overenthusiastic about the minimal natural resources that are now being discovered.

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