Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Obama, Lee warn North Korea brinkmanship won't work

Obama, Lee warn North Korea brinkmanship won't work
N. Korea's anti-sanctions rally
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By Matt Spetalnick and Doug Palmer
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak presented a united front to North Korea on Tuesday, saying Pyongyang must abandon its nuclear weapons program and will not be rewarded for provoking a crisis.
With Lee at his side in the White House Rose Garden, Obama said a nuclear-armed North Korea would pose a "grave threat" to the world and vowed that new U.N. sanctions against the reclusive communist-ruled nation would be strictly enforced.
"Given the belligerent manner in which they are constantly threatening their neighbors, I don't think there's any question that that would be a destabilizing situation that would be a profound threat to not only the United States' security, but to world security," Obama said.
He promised to end a cycle of allowing impoverished North Korea to create a nuclear crisis, then granting concessions in the form of food, fuel and other incentives to get Pyongyang to back down, only to later see it renege on its promises.
"This is a pattern they've come to expect," Obama said. "We are going to break that pattern."
While talking tough, Obama -- who took office in January pledging a new approach of talking to America's enemies -- also extended an olive branch.
"I want to be clear that there is another path available to North Korea ... including full integration into the community of nations," Obama said. "That destination can only be reached through peaceful negotiations that achieve the full and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula."
North Korea, which last month conducted a nuclear explosion and missile tests in defiance of international pressure, said at the weekend it would start a uranium enrichment program and weaponize all its uranium in response to new U.N. sanctions.
Lee said the U.N. Security Council's vote last week to expand sanctions on North Korea showed the global community's firm resolve.
He said South Korea, along with the United States, Japan, China and Russia -- members of stalled six-party talks with Pyongyang -- will be seeking new measures to get the North to "irrevocably dismantle" all nuclear weapons programs. The White House declined to say what actions were being considered.
The South Korean leader has followed a tough line on North Korea, even before Pyongyang raised tensions in recent weeks by test-firing missiles, restarting a plant to produce arms-grade plutonium and conducting a nuclear test on May 25.
As a stark message to Pyongyang, Obama re-committed to Washington's defense of South Korea, including keeping it under America's "nuclear umbrella."
Japan's Asahi newspaper reported on Tuesday that the youngest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il secretly visited China last week and his hosts were told he had been appointed heir to the ruling family dynasty.
The report, citing unidentified informed sources, said Kim Jong-un met Chinese President Hu Jintao and other leaders of the ruling Communist Party when he flew to Beijing around June 10. Continued...
Source: Reuters

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