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Expression of concern on military tensions in the Korean peninsula

07 July 2006

Letter to member churches and the National Council of Churches in South Korea,
7 July, 2006

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

The recent launching of seven missiles, including the Daepodong-2, by the
Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), confirms the fears expressed earlier
by the WCC Executive Committee when it met in Seoul in August 2004. At
the time it warned the international community that the Korean peninsula remains
a flashpoint in the region and has the potential to ignite a major conflagration.
The belligerent and perilous tactics of brinkmanship by North Korea have needlessly
heightened military tensions in the Korean peninsula endangering the peace
and security of the people in the region.

The World Council of Churches, together with the churches in Korea, has for
over two decades played a pioneering role in initiating and supporting the peaceful
reunification of the Korean peninsula and its people. The DPRK's decision to
carry out the missile test is greatly flawed because it has intensified military buildup
and threat. This will not only isolate North Korea from the international community,
but will also add to the sufferings of its people. The missile tests are therefore
a setback to the efforts to bring about peace and reconciliation. These
developments show how important is the need to revive the stalled Six Party Talks
that ended in November 2005 without an agreement after the parties in September
signed a Joint Declaration calling for a nuclear free Korean peninsula. Peace on
the peninsula can only come through a policy of engagement and mutual trust.
The churches and the ecumenical movement should do all in their power to encourage
such a course of action.

The World Council of Churches reiterates its commitment to peace and reunification
of the Korean peninsula and its people. This goal, however, cannot be
achieved through military aggression and threats and requires consistent and concerted
efforts to encourage cooperation and dialogue.

The World Council of Churches endorses the 7 July Appeal of the Presbyterian
Church of the Republic of Korea (PROK) urging "all concerned countries to normalize
the diplomatic relations with North Korea and transform the current situation
of conflict into a constructive process towards peace." The appeal is a
reminder to us that Christians who put their trust in the Lord of history should
be bearers of the light of hope amidst the prevailing gloom of despondency.

Yours in Christ,

Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia
General Secretary