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U.N. chief calls for global cyberspace norms


SEOUL, Oct, 17 (Yonhap) -- The international community should work together to establish shared standards to enhance cyberspace security and freedom, the chief of the United Nations said Thursday.

In a video address to an international conference on cyberspace security in Seoul, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said cyberspace threats can become a source of instability to the world, calling for international cooperation to lay out international rules to tackle such threats.

"We should work together to strengthen our push for international frameworks for collaboration and adopt necessary measures to detect and diffuse cyber threats," Ban said.

The Seoul Conference on Cyberspace 2013 kicked off its two-day run at the COEX convention center in southern Seoul, bringing together government officials and cyberspace experts from around the world. It is the third annual meeting after England hosted the inaugural gathering in London in 2011. Hungary hosted the second conference last year.

The international community has been unable to draw up an agreement on cyberspace regulations as developed and developing countries showed wide gaps in the allowable level of cyberspace freedom as well as international regulation on hacking activities.

South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se told the conference that collective responsibility and understanding as well as intensified collaboration are needed to make cyberspace an engine for joint prosperity and opportunity.

"I hope this conference will provide a direction and momentum in discussions to establish international norms on cyberspace activities," Yun said in a speech to the meeting.

British Foreign Secretary William Jefferson Hague echoed such views, saying that the international community should "work together to build confidence and norms of behavior" in order to secure collective security in the cyber sphere. Maintaining openness and freedom is the key to promoting the Internet as an engine of progress all over the world, he said.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye stressed her commitment to close the still-wide "digital divide" between well-to-do countries and less developed nations in her speech delivered at the conference.

"The international community must be able to prepare actual support policies to eliminate the digital divide," Park said. "And from that perspective, I have great expectations for the discussions you'll have in this conference on capacity building for information and communications technologies for developing nations."

Under the theme "Global Prosperity through an Open and Secure Cyberspace - Opportunities, Threats and Cooperation," this year's Seoul forum deals mainly with cyberspace warfare and hacking activities as well as ways to enhance international cyberspace cooperation to facilitate development, according to the foreign ministry in charge of the Seoul event.

The Seoul meeting brings together about 1,600 government and corporate officials, civil leaders, international organization heads and experts from 87 foreign countries.

Some African and South American guests were newly invited to the gathering, previously focused mainly on European guests, in order to better discuss collaboration between developed and developing countries in the cyber sphere, according to the ministry.

Wrapping up their discussions, the participants plan to issue two separate documents along with the chair's summary of the tentatively named Seoul Principles and Best Practices that covers the basic principles and practicable measures related to cyberspace activities.

"This gathering is expected to become an opportunity to enhance international collaboration in cyberspace," said Choi Sung-joo, Seoul's ambassador for international security, which is in charge of organizing the event.

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