WHITE HOUSE - President Barack Obama and South Korean President Park Guen-hye demanded that North Korea abandon its nuclear ambitions at a White House summit Friday, but expressed a willingness to engage in talks with Pyongyang if it demonstrated that it is serious about eliminating its nuclear capabilities.

“Our nations will never accept North Korea as a nuclear weapons state,” said  Obama during a joint press conference.

“We will continue to insist that Pyongyang must abide by its obligations on the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the peninsula in a peaceful manner.”

The two leaders called the more than six-decade-old alliance between their nations “a linchpin for peace and security” in the peninsula and across the Asia Pacific region.

Obama expressed support for Park’s effort to reunify the peninsula and said the United States would be willing to engage with Pyongyang if it shifted its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

“As my administration has shown with Iran, Cuba, we are also prepared to engage nations with which we’ve had troubled histories,” said the U.S. leader.  “But Pyongyang needs to understand that it will not achieve the economic development it seeks so long as it points to nuclear weapons.”

President Barack Obama meets with South Korean Pre
President Barack Obama meets with South Korean President Park Geun-hye, Oct. 16, 2015, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington.

'Provocative actions' blasted

Park blasted what she called North Korea’s “provocative actions,” by North Korea. Two South Korean soldiers were wounded in August when a North Korean land mine exploded the border region.

In a joint statement, the leaders said the two allies are committed to countering “North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs and as well as other provocations.”  

The leaders vowed to strengthen coordination with China and other parties to persuade North Korea to agree to “credible and meaningful talks as soon as possible.”

Obama reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to South Korea’s defense and security and said the Asia Pacific nation “plays a central role in America’s rebalance to the Asia Pacific region.”

South Korean President Park Geun-hye second form l
South Korean President Park Geun-hye second form left, reviews the troops during a full military honors parade to welcome her, Oct. 15, 2015, at the Pentagon.