US President Barack Obama has warned that North Korea can no longer use nuclear threats to provoke an international crisis. His comments followed a meeting with South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye.
In a show of unity with South Korea on Tuesday Obama said Pyongyang would no longer be rewarded for provocative behavior.
"The days when North Korea could create a crisis and elicit concessions, those days are over." Obama said at the White House after the two leaders met privately in the Oval Office.
His comments came during Park Geun-hye's first foreign visit as president, which coincided with the 60th anniversary of an alliance between the United States and South Korea.
Tensions between the US, Seoul and Pyongyang have grown in recent months in the wake of the north's third banned nuclear test in February. The UN Security Council responded by tightening sanctions on North Korea prompting the country to scrap a 1953 armistice with the South. It has also threatened strikes on the US and South Korea.
On Tuesday, North Korea threatened the two countries over their joint naval drills this week in the Yellow Sea. The North Korean People's Army announced that it would strike back if any shells were to fall within its territory during the drills. According to the statement, if the countries were to respond to that, the military would then strike five South Korean islands.
‘Make them pay'
Ahead of Tuesday's meeting, Daniel Russel, White House senior director for Asian affairs, said that Obama would reaffirm the US commitment to the defense of South Korea.
He said the joint appearance of the two leaders at the White House would make it clear to North Korea that the allies would not be divided. Russel cautioned, however, that it was premature to judge whether North Korea's cycle of provocation "is going up, down or zigzagging."
"In dealing with North Korea, it's vital we show unity," Russel said.
Park landed in New York Monday to meet with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who praised her response to North Korea and determination to resolve differences through dialogue. Park, however, made it clear in an interview on the eve of her visit that she was willing to get tough on North Korea. She told CBS News that in case of an attack, "We will make them pay."
mkg/ccp (AFP, Reuters, dpa, AP)