U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is warning North Korea to stick to its nuclear pledges and avoid provocative actions - such as a possible missile launches experts have warned could come very soon. She is also calling on Pyongyang to calm its rhetoric towards the South.
Secretary of State Clinton urged North Korea Friday to tone down its shrill language towards South Korea, known formally as the Republic of Korea.
"North Korea is not going to get a different relationship with the United States while insulting and refusing dialogue with the Republic of Korea," she said.
North Korea has refused for months to speak with South Korea, referring to conservative President Lee Myung-bak as a "traitor." Mr. Lee has demanded progress in eliminating North Korea's nuclear weapons before proceeding with billions of dollars of South Korean aid and investment promised in previous agreements. The North has threatened several times in recent months to reduce Seoul to "ashes."
In a joint press conference with South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-Hwan, Clinton said such statements should stop.
"We are calling on the government of North Korea to refrain from the kind of provocative and unhelpful war of words that it has been engaged in because that is not very fruitful," she said.
U.S. and South Korean military experts have warned there is evidence North Korea is planning a test launch of a long-range missile theoretically capable of reaching the United States. North Korea heightened those suspicions this week when it defended its right to such launches in the interest of "space research."
Clinton recalled a United Nations resolution imposed after North Korea's 2006 long range missile test, which prohibited future tests.
"The North should refrain from violating this resolution, and also from any and all provocative actions," she said.
Clinton also formally announced the appointment of former U.S. ambassador to South Korea, Stephen Bosworth, as a special envoy to North Korea. Bosworth is expected to be Washington's point person in six-nation talks aimed at ending the North's nuclear weapons. Clinton says she will also handle North Korean humanitarian and human rights issues.
Lho Kyungsoo, chairman of the Asia Society here in Seoul, said Bosworth is well qualified for the job.
"He's thoroughly versed in Korean issues, North and South. He's a very balanced manager on tough issues. I think he negotiates very well. He has a very, very strong presence and persona," Lho said.
Secretary Clinton meets with Chinese leaders in Beijing this weekend before heading home to Washington.