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S. Korea seeks ASEAN help to defuse Korean peninsula tension


South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se called on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to play an "active role" in helping defuse the acute tension on the Korean Peninsula, as North Korea is ready for a mid-range missile launch.

Yun made the remarks during a telephone conversation with Foreign Minister Prince Mohamed Bolkiah of Brunei, which serves as the chair of the ASEAN, on late Tuesday, an official at Seoul's foreign ministry said.

Military officials said North Korea could launch mobile ballistic missiles any time. South Korean and U.S. troops upgraded their alert status on North Korea to the next level as tensions are escalating.

During the telephone talks, Yun asked "Brunei, as the ASEAN chair, to play an active role in delivering a consistent message that North Korea will gain nothing from threats and provocations," the official said.

South Korea "is dealing with the situation in a stable manner, while maintaining a strong deterrence against North Korea," Yun was quoted as telling Bolkiah.

North Korea has unleashed a torrent of threats following U.N. sanctions that punished Pyongyang for conducting its third nuclear test on February 12. Since then, the North has threatened to wage a nuclear strike against South Korea and the U.S., and temporarily suspended operations at the inter-Korean industrial park.