South Korea's President Park Geun-hye has told US lawmakers she will not accept a nuclear-armed North Korea. On Tuesday she and President Obama delivered a strong message of unity in the face of threats from Pyongyang.
On her first trip overseas since taking power in February, President Park Geun-hye told a joint meeting of the US Congress that "Pyongyang's provocations will be met decisively."
South Korea "is backed by the might of our alliance. So long as this continues, you may rest assured - no North Korean provocation can succeed," she said, receiving an ovation from lawmakers.
Her visit marks the 60th anniversary of the defense treaty between the US and South Korea. In her speech she gave a tribute to US veterans of the 1950-53 conflict, including four congressmen. The US currently has about 28,500 troops in South Korea.
Park said South Korea maintains the "highest level of readiness," and that it's time to end the "vicious cycle" of North Korean provocations. However, she also said Seoul is ready to provide humanitarian aid despite the political climate and will continue to build trust with North Korea.
"I will remain steadfast in pushing forward a process of trust-building on the Korean Peninsula. I am confident that trust is the path to peace - the path to a Korea that is whole again," she said.
"But as we say in Korea, it takes two hands to clap."
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.
Recently, Pyongyang closed the jointly run Kaesong industrial park, the last remaining symbol of North-South cooperation. The industrial zone, which lies inside the reclusive North, was a crucial source of hard currency for Pyongyang.
hc/kms (AFP, AP)