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Zero nuke tolerance: Biden

Updated: 2013-12-07 09:13
( Agencies in Seoul)

Zero nuke tolerance: Biden
Park Geun-hye, president of the Republic of Korea, talks with US Vice-President Joe Biden as he signs the guest book upon his arrival for their meeting at the presidential Blue House in Seoul on Friday. [Photo/Agencies]

Seoul, Washington agree to join hands to denuclearize DPRK

US Vice-President Joe Biden said on Friday that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea will never achieve security as long as it continues to pursue nuclear arms but added that Washington remains open to dialogue if Pyongyang can show its willingness to honor its commitments.

As Biden arrived in Seoul on Thursday night, tensions were underlined by the publication of new satellite images that appeared to show increased activity at the DPRK's main nuclear site, in line with Pyongyang's vows to expand its weapons program.

Biden, in a speech at the elite Yonsei University about Washington's Asia policy, said that the United States and the world had to make it "absolutely clear" that it would not tolerate nuclear arms in the DPRK.

The US vice-president is on the last leg of his East Asia trip, which also took him to Tokyo and Beijing.

He added that the DPRK "can never achieve security and prosperity so long as it pursues nuclear weapons" and that the US is prepared to return to the Six-Party Talks when the DPRK "demonstrates its full commitment to a complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization".

China has been pushing hard for the US and the Republic of Korea to resume the Six-Party Talks to denuclearize the DPRK, but they insist Pyongyang must first demonstrate a tangible commitment.

The DPRK has forged ahead with its nuclear development after retreating from the Six-Party Talks in 2008, overturning its commitments made under a 2005 disarmament deal aimed at rewarding it with economic incentives.

Pyongyang has come under tougher UN sanctions after its third nuclear test in February, which is reported to have boosted its effort to build a nuclear arsenal. The test defied international warnings.

In Biden's meeting with ROK President Park Geun-hye on Friday, the two leaders agreed to make joint efforts to denuclearize the DPRK.

ROK Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se told reporters at a press briefing that Park and Biden agreed to make further efforts to achieve a "substantive progress" in that regard.

Biden will lay a wreath at a ceremony honoring fallen US troops and will visit the Demilitarized Zone between the DPRK and ROK on Saturday before returning to the US.

The US is currently trying to secure the release of two of its citizens being held in the DPRK, including an 85-year-old Korean War veteran.

Biden on Friday also indicated continued US commitment to its Asian allies, telling Park that US foreign policy should be above suspicion.

"I want to make one thing absolutely clear: President Obama's decision to rebalance the Pacific basin is not in question," Biden said as the two leaders sat down for talks.

US President Barack Obama called off a trip to the region in October to negotiate with Republicans over a budget impasse that had triggered automatic cuts to US military spending, raising speculations in Asia that the promised rebalance could be derailed.

Park said she hoped that the six-decade-long ROK-US alliance will deepen and develop further based on trust.

In his speech at the university, Biden said changes in Asia are remaking the world.

Touting Asia's potential for growth, he said growth and peace are related. But he added that with growth comes new tensions and threats. He called for a single set of rules for open economic exchange and better diplomatic and security relations so that all people can benefit.



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