PM vows strong defense on armistice anniversary

SEOUL, July 27 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will try to build a strong defense capability to protect the country from any outside aggression on its own, the prime minister said Sunday.

"Based on the public's strong sense of national security, the government will seek to ensure strong military capabilities to defend itself under any circumstances," Prime Minister Chung Hong-won told a ceremony marking the 61st anniversary of the signing of an armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.

"We should not allow a second war to break out on this soil, which was preserved by the blood, sweat and tears of the United Nations forces," he said.

As part of the U.N. Allied Forces, 21 countries helped South Korea fight off invading troops from the communist North, with 16 of them sending combat troops and the rest providing medical assistance units. Tens of thousands of U.N. troops were killed in action.

Noting "North Korea is threatening our peace and security with its nuclear weapons program and military provocations," Chung said Seoul will step up cooperation with the international community to help ensure peace on the Korean Peninsula, as it did more than six decades ago.

The prime minister also stressed that the divided peninsula should be unified in a peaceful way, saying the Seoul government is making efforts to that end, including the July 15 establishment of a blue-ribbon preparatory committee for unification with North Korea.

Some 3,000 veterans, bereaved families of the fallen soldiers and government officials attended the armistice anniversary ceremony held at the COEX Convention