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S. Korea asks for N. Korea's participation in regional forum through 'various channels': official

SEOUL, April 14 (Yonhap) — South Korea continues to try to persuade North Korea to join a Seoul-proposed regional cooperative forum on infectious diseases and other public health issues through “various channels,” a unification ministry official said Wednesday.

Five countries, including South Korea, the United States and Japan, launched the cooperative forum in December after President Moon Jae-in proposed the idea during a U.N. General Assembly meeting in September.

Seoul has called for North Korea’s participation from the beginning, though Pyongyang remains unresponsive.

“We are asking North Korea to participate in the forum by using various channels,” the ministry official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

“Measures have also been drawn up to make the North join the forum intended to jointly fight such diseases as African swine fever and avian influenza in case of their outbreaks in the North,” the official added.

The official noted that South Korea is delivering the message to the North via other participating countries, including Mongolia and China, but Pyongyang has not answered the calls yet.

South Korea has hoped that the North’s participation in such forums could help bring Pyongyang to work together with other neighbors and also be conductive to jumpstarting currently stalled inter-Korean relations.

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