The escalating tension with North Korea is expected to top the agenda on the second day of
G8 talks in London. This comes as South Korea raised its alert level in response to rocket
deployments in the North.
The G8 foreign ministers group – comprised of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy,
Japan, Russia and the United States – are set to discuss the North Korea crisis on Thursday.
On Thursday South Korean broadcaster KBS quoted South Korean military officials saying
that North Korea could test-launch several missiles imminently and simultaneously.
South Korea raised its alert level to “vital threat,” while its Yonhap News Agency reported
that, according to military satellite pictures, five mobile launchers had been positioned in
North Korea’s eastern province of South Hamkyung.
At least one of them seemed to be loaded with a intermediate-range Musudan rocket which
has a reach of 3,000 to 4,000 kilometers, enabling it to reach South Korea, Japan and the US
military base on the Pacific island of Guam.
US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel had warned on Wednesday that the North Korean
regime was “skating very close to a dangerous line.”
Russia’s Foreign Minister Seregei Lavrov warned against heating up the Korean crisis with
military maneuvers, but stressed that Moscow and Washington had a common stand.
“On North Korea we have no differences with the United States,” Lavrov told journalists.
Tension has been rising on the Korean peninsula since North Korea responded angrily to a
joint military exercise in March by the United States and South Korea.
Pyongyang used its state media to raise tensions, annulling a non-aggression treaty in place
since 1953 suspending the three-year Korean War. Subsequently North Korea cut business
ties to the South and warned western countries of a mounting threat to their embassies in
The first day of the G8 meeting in London had wrapped up late on Wednesday with the
leaders discussing the conflict in Syria. On the sidelines of the talks, foreign ministers met
with Syrian rebels who renewed appeals for lethal aid.
On the sidelines of the two-day ministerial gathering, US Secretary of State John Kerry and
other G8 foreign ministers held talks with members of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC),
including new opposition prime minister Ghassan Hitto.
The opposition renewed its appeals for arms at the meeting, which it has long called for in
order to fight Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in a conflict that has reached its third
year and has cost some 70,000 lives, according to the UN.
On Thursday France and Britain are expected once again to press the case for amending or
lifting an arms embargo on Syria.
This comes as Human Rights Watch, a New York based NGO, accused the Syrian
government of war crimes in its report on indiscriminate airstrikes killing thousands of
civilians in the country.
rg/kms (dpa, Reuters, AFP, AP)