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US, South Korea ready to 'engage' denuclearized North Korea

US President Barack Obama has said that the US and South Korea are ready to 'engage' North Korea if it ends its nuclear weapons program. President Park Geung-Hye said Seoul would attempt reconciliation.

At a joint press conference in Washington on Friday, both US President Barack Obama and South Korean President Park Geun-Hye urged Pyongyang to end its nuclear weapons program as the first step in engagement.

"[North Korean President] Kim Jong-un's missile program achieved nothing except to deepen North Korea's isolation," Obama said, adding that Washington's alliance with Seoul was "a lynchpin of peace and security" for the region.

"At the point where Kim Jong-un says we are interested in seeing relations and denuclearization, I think it's fair to say we will be right there at the table," Obama added.

Carried over from his father Kim Jong-il, Jong-un has continued to expand the country's nuclear program while testing ballistic missiles that could be used to deliver an atomic weapon.

US President Barack Obama and his South Korean counterpart Park Geung-Hye discuss relations

President Barack Obama told his South Korean counterpart Park Geung-Hye that the US is committed to South Korea's security

In September, North Korea confirmed that it restarted its main nuclear complex used to produce plutonium for its atomic weapons program.

A report published by Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security in September said that Pyongyang may be separating isotopes used to manufacture "sophisticated nuclear weapons."

Obama said that the US is ready to "engage nations with which we have had troubled histories."

"Kim needs to understand it [North Korea] will not achieve the economic development it seeks so long as it looks at nuclear weapons," Obama added.

Meanwhile, Geun-Hye said that her government was ready to take concrete steps at reconciliation if Pyongyang would give up their nuclear weapons program. The South Korean president added that reunification is someone no one could predict.

ls/jm (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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