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Obama Calls on N. Korea to Return to Talks


President Barack Obama speaks to troops at a US military airbase in Osan, south of Seoul, 19 Nov 2009

President Barack Obama speaks to troops at a US military airbase in Osan, south of Seoul, 19 Nov 2009

U.S President Barack Obama is calling on North Korea to return to nuclear talks and he is warning of possible new sanctions on Iran. Mr. Obama spoke in Seoul after talks with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.

U.S President Barack Obama is calling on North Korea to return to nuclear talks and he is warning of possible new sanctions on Iran. Mr. Obama spoke in Seoul after talks with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.

The president's day in Seoul began with ceremony - and quickly moved to substance.

Topping the agenda: North Korea's nuclear program.

The American and South Korean presidents called on the North Koreans to return to multilateral negotiations. And, Mr. Obama announced he is sending a senior envoy to Pyongyang for the first time since taking office.

"We will be sending Ambassador Bosworth to North Korea on December 8, to engage in direct talks with the North Koreans," President Obama said.

President Obama says Bosworth will have a defined mission - to get the North Koreans back to the so-called six-party talks.

President Lee indicated patience is running thin.

When asked if he has a time frame for resolving the North Korean issue, he said, "as soon as possible".

The nuclear threat from Iran also came up during President Obama's brief visit to Seoul.

Mr. Obama says he still holds out some hope Iran will eventually agree to send its nuclear fuel to another country for processing. But he admits the chances are not good.

"We have seen indications that, whether it is for internal political reasons or they are stuck in some of their own rhetoric, they have been unable to get to 'yes,'" he said.

The president says the United States and its international partners are already exploring various options that can be taken if Iran says 'no.'

"Our expectation is that, over the next several weeks, we will be developing a package of potential steps that we could take that will indicate our seriousness to Iran," Mr. Obama said.

South Korea was the last stop for the president on an Asian tour that also included Japan, Singapore and China.

He ended the journey as it began - with a visit to American troops.

At Osan air base, near Seoul, he reflected on his maiden voyage as president to East Asia.

"At every step of my journey, one truth is clear: the security that allows families to live in peace in Asia and America, the prosperity that allows people to pursue their dreams, the freedoms and liberties that we cherish, they are not accidents of history," he said. "They are the direct results of the work that you do."

The president said he could not end his trip without extending personal thanks to the members of America's armed forces, in South Korea and around the world.

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