Mon May 15, 2017 4:35AM
South Korean President Moon Jae-in (1st-R) presides over a National Security Council meeting at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, May 14, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
South Korean President Moon Jae-in (1st-R) presides over a National Security Council meeting at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, May 14, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

South Korea will send special envoys to five countries to exchange viewpoints on how to develop closer relations under the government of President Moon Jae-in.

South Korea’s presidential Blue House said in a statement on Monday that special envoys would be sent to the US, China, Russia, Japan, and Germany to meet with high-ranking officials there and discuss how to develop firmer ties.

Among the South Korean envoys is former prime minister Lee Hae-chan, who will travel to China. Hong Seok-hyun, a former ambassador to the United States and former chairman of South Korean newspaper Joongang Ilbo and broadcaster JTBC, will head to Washington, according to the Blue House.

North Korea’s missile and military nuclear programs are also high on their agenda, as no let-up appears in tensions with Pyongyang.

The North launched a new type of ballistic missile on Sunday. South Korean President Moon, known for his open attitude toward dialog with the North, condemned the missile launch and convened his first National Security Council meeting over the issue.

A TV news program shows a graphic of a North Korean recent missile launch, at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea, May 14, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The North said on Monday that the missile was a “new ground-to-ground medium long-range strategic ballistic rocket,” which was “capable of carrying a large, heavy nuclear warhead.”

The test prompted the United Nations Security Council to call for consultations on Tuesday afternoon. US Ambassador Nikki Haley meanwhile raised the possibility of new sanctions against North Korea by saying that the US would “continue to tighten the screws” on the North.

The North has been under harsh UN sanctions over its nuclear and ballistic missile tests since 2006. Tensions have specifically risen with the US, which has adopted a war-like posture by sending a strike force to the Korean Peninsula and threatening that “all options” were being considered vis-à-vis North Korea.

Washington, which has permanent forces in the region, also recently deployed an advanced missile system in South Korea. Moon has been concerned by that deployment, which he believes was done hastily before he took over as South Korea’s president.

Just moments after he officially began his term, Moon declared his willingness to work for peace with Pyongyang and reassured that he “will do everything I can to build peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

Pyongyang says its missile and military nuclear programs act as deterrence against a potential invasion by its adversaries.

The latest missile launch has been interpreted by some observers as intended by North Korea to test Moon.