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Park invites N. Korea to int'l confab on biodiversity in Oct.


President Park Geun Hye on Friday extended an invitation to North Korea to send a delegation to an international conference on biological diversity set to be held in South Korea in October.

"First of all, we need to build a channel for environmental cooperation, through which both Koreas can connect and restore the ecosystem on the Korean Peninsula," Park said in a speech on National Liberation Day, marking the end of Japan's colonial rule in 1945.

In this regard, she expressed her hope that North Korea will take part in the 12th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity set to be held Oct. 6-17 in Pyeongchang in Gangwon Province.

"We (both Koreas) should begin with the work of jointly managing streams that cut through the South and the North and also forests and expand cooperative projects that will be of benefits to both sides," she said.

Park also make a proposal to the North to start joint works of excavating cultural relics and preserving them for the next generation to come, and to prepare cultural programs to jointly celebrate the 70th anniversary of gaining independence from Japan's colonial rule next year.

She urged the North to accept a proposal made by the South earlier this week to hold a second round of high-level talks next Tuesday at the truce village of Panmunjeom.

South Korea said it wants to use the talks, if realized, to discuss matters of mutual interest, including arranging the reunions of separated families around Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) holiday, which falls on Sept. 8 this year.

North Korea has not yet sent a reply to the proposal.

In Friday's speech, Park reiterated her call on the North to abandon its nuclear weapons program and work toward "getting away from being isolated and becoming a responsible member of the international community for peace on the Korean Peninsula and prosperity in Northeast Asia."

Park also issued a warning to the North against test-firing more short-range missiles and other projectiles as it has been doing in recent days and months.

"Missile launches and nuclear weapons development, which pose a grave threat to our security, will never be tolerated, and such behaviors will only deepen the North's isolation and tie up the North's hands and legs," she said.

North Korea launched five short-range projectiles on Thursday just as Pope Francis began the first papal visit to South Korea in 25 years.

The latest launches came just hours after the North, through its official media, called for "realistic steps to put an end to the hostile acts between the north and the south and pull down the barriers lying in the way of reconciliation, unity and reunification," while it also demanded that the South's upcoming joint war drills with the United States be cancelled.