S. Korea’s NSC discusses Middle East security conditions

SEOUL-- South Korea's National Security Council reviewed ways Monday to contribute to the international community's efforts to help stabilize the security situations in the Middle East, Cheong Wa Dae said, as its members held an emergency meeting to focus on the heightened Iran crisis.

The members of the NSC standing committee expressed hope that regional security conditions will be promptly stabilized during the session presided over by Chung Eui-yong, director of national security at the presidential office.

The South Korean government has been exploring specific methods to assist in the U.S.-led campaign to ensure freedom of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz. Options considered include dispatching troops there in stages, according to media reports.

Seoul apparently faces a more complicated choice due to increased military tensions in the region following last week's killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, arguably Iran's most powerful commander, by a U.S. drone bombing at Baghdad's international airport.

The NSC members also received a briefing from Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Sung Yun-mo on recent oil and gas prices. South Korea relies heavily on supply of crude oil from the Middle East.

They agreed to focus all efforts to minimize the impact from the crisis over Iran, Cheong Wa Dae said.

They also decided to continue a push for substantive progress in denuclearization talks between Pyongyang and Washington and an improvement in inter-Korean ties, assessing results of a recent plenary meeting of the Central Committee of North Korea's Workers' Party, it added.

They discussed measures connected with the bilateral talks with the United States on sharing the cost of troops stationed in South Korea.

Earlier in the day, Cheong Wa Dae said President Moon Jae-in instructed the NSC members to closely review security conditions, the safety of South Koreans in the Middle East and crude oil supply, in particular.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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