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May 07, 2013

US, S. Korea: Pyongyang's Provocations Failed

by Dan Robinson

After White House talks, U.S. President Barack Obama and South Korean President Park Geun-Hye have called on North Korea to end provocative behavior, and commit to meaningful steps to de-nuclearize.  

Park's visit to Washington came as the United States and South Korea continue to observe the 60th anniversary of their mutual defense treaty signed just two months after the end of the Korean War in 1953.

Weeks leading up to their Oval Office talks were marked by rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula as North Korea threatened nuclear and conventional attacks on South Korea and the United States.

Related video report by VOA's Kent Klein:

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Obama said the message North Korea should take from Tuesday's talks with Park, and from overall U.S. - South Korean resolve, is that provocative actions have failed.

"If Pyongyang thought its recent threats would drive a wedge between South Korea and the United States or somehow garner the North international respect, today is further evidence that North Korea has failed again," he said.

Obama said that North Korea, faced with new international sanctions, is more isolated than ever. He said the days when the North could "create a crisis and elicit concessions are over."

At the same time, he said the U.S. and South Korea are prepared to engage diplomatically with Pyongyang, but only if North Korea takes meaningful steps to abide by U.N. resolutions and move toward de-nuclearization.

Park said South Korea and the U.S. will work to "induce" North Korea to "make the right choice" including through her trust-building policy.

"I take this opportunity to once again send a clear message.  North Korea will not be able to survive if it only clings to developing its nuclear weapons at the expense of its people's happiness," said Park. "Concurrently pursuing nuclear arsenals and development can by no means succeed."

Park said there is no way to know if North Korea is reducing threats and provocations. She said the international community must send a firm and consistent message that provocations will be met with stronger steps.

She reiterated that North Korea would have to "pay a price" for further provocations, adding she would trust the judgment of her military in such situations.

Obama said the world "would benefit from a North Korea that transformed itself," but added neither he nor President Park is naive about the difficulties of this taking place.

Obama described President Park as tough and realistic but someone who has the wisdom to believe that conflict is not inevitable or preferable.

The South Korean leader continues her Washington visit tomorrow Wednesday with an address to the U.S. Congress.