President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday called for calm following the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, saying it was not expected to have a strong impact on Taiwan’s diplomacy or defenses in the short term.
Ma’s remarks followed an announcement by Minister of Foreign Affairs Timothy Yang (楊進添) that the ministry had formed an emergency task force to cope with any developments on the Korean Peninsula in the wake of Kim’s death.
The ministry created task forces within its Taipei headquarters and its representative office in South Korea, ministry spokesman James Chang (章計平) said.
“We are also keeping in contact with Taiwanese living in both South and North Korea to ensure their personal safety,” Chang added.
The ministry will continue to monitor developments in the North and the possible impact Kim’s death might have on the East Asian region, Chang said.
Ma said during a press conference at his re-election campaign office that the National Security Council had invited defense, foreign, security, economic and Mainland Affairs Council officials to a brainstorming session to discuss the possible impact of Kim’s death.
“The council will brief me on the conclusion of the meeting later in the day,” Ma said.
Ma said the public should remain calm because the nation’s economic fundamentals remain sound.
On reports that South Korea’s military has been on emergency alert since news of Kim’s demise emerged and that Japan’s Cabinet held an emergency meeting yesterday morning, Ma said those two countries were very close to North Korea.
“While Taiwan is located a bit farther from North Korea than either South Korea or Japan, we attach great importance to the possible impact of Kim’s death and will carefully deal with all relevant issues,” Ma said.
Presidential Office spokesman Fan Chiang Tai-chi (范姜泰基) said Ma was scheduled to call a news conference later in the day to brief the public on the government’s response measures.
Meanwhile, Ministry of National Defense spokesman David Lo (羅紹和) said the ministry was also closely watching developments on the Korean Peninsula.