Indonesia to become mediator between the two Koreas

Indonesia said Monday it would try and arrange a meeting between defense ministers from the two Koreas later this year as part of efforts to reduce tension on the peninsula. After talks with his South Korean counterpart in Jakarta, Indonesian Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono said the diplomatic initiative was meant to complement ongoing six-nation talks on the North's nuclear program.

Sudarsono said he planned to "visit South Korea (later this year) in order to facilitate a meeting between defense ministers from South Korea and North Korea." He gave no more details. South Korean Defense Minister Yoon Kwang Ung said President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told him that Indonesia "wanted to join efforts to resolve the problem in the Korean Peninsula."

"For that purpose, the president promised to send his envoys to our country and North Korea as (peace) initiators," he said. The two Koreas technically remain in a state of war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. Exchanges between the divided states have flourished in recent years, but tensions persist over the North's nuclear ambitions.

Indonesia and North Korea have a historical ties. The country's first president, Sukarno, was a close friend of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's late father, Kim Il Sung. Sukarno's daughter, Megawati Sukarnoputri, was Indonesian president between 2001 and 2004 and has kept up a friendship with Kim Jong Il, reports the AP. N.U.