(AFP) – Oct 13, 2011
WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama warned North Korea Thursday that it would face deeper isolation and international pressure if it carried out more "provocations" like those that rattled Asia last year.
Obama, standing side-by-side with South Korean Lee President Lee Myung-Bak at the White House, said Pyongyang could however expect greater opportunities if it lived up to its international obligations over its nuclear program.
The two leaders discussed North Korea in their White House talks and said they were united in their approach towards Pyongyang.
"Together we've succeeded in changing the equation with the North by showing that its provocations will be met not with rewards but with even stronger sanctions and isolation," Obama said.
"So the choice is clear for North Korea. If Pyongyang continues to ignore its international obligations, it will invite even more pressure and isolation.
"If the North abandons its quest for nuclear weapons and moves towards denuclearization, it will enjoy greater security and opportunity for its people."
The South Korean leader added the aim was to persuade Pyongyang to give up its suspect nuclear program and said the two governments "speak with one voice and we will continue to speak with one voice."
"For North Korea, the only way to ensure happiness for its people and to embark on that path to development is to abandon its nuclear ambitions," Lee said.
"And so we have tried through peaceful means, through diplomatic means to strongly urge North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions."
Before leaving Seoul for his state visit to the United States, Lee promised "flexibility" towards the North, in a possible sign of a softer approach.
Seoul's accusations that the North torpedoed one of its warships in March 2010 in which 46 people died were followed last November by the deaths of four more South Koreans when the North bombarded a frontier island.
But last month, the two Koreas held a second round of talks designed to pave the way for a resumption of six-nation talks on the North's nuclear program.
US and North Korean officials met in New York in late July and are widely expected to meet again soon.
But analysts say softened US and South Korean rhetoric may be motivated more by a desire to avoid more provocations by Pyongyang, than a belief that a nuclear breakthrough is imminent.
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