U.S. President Barack Obama has today called on North Korea to show "seriousness of purpose" before the United States will agree to restart six-nation talks aimed at securing the North's nuclear disarmament.
"North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons will only lead to more isolation and less security for them," Obama said. "There is another path available to North Korea. If they choose to fulfill their international obligations and commitments to the international community, they will have the chance to offer their people lives of growing opportunity instead of crushing poverty."
Obama spoke at a joint press conference after talks with his South Korean counterpart, Lee Myung-Bak, ahead of the Group of 20 major economies summit in Seoul.
Communist-led North Korea quit the six-nation talks in April 2009 and conducted its second nuclear test in May of that year. The talks have involved North Korea, South Korea, Japan, China, Russia, and the United States.
Earlier today, Obama declared that the United States "will never waver" in its defense of its ally South Korea and said Washington's alliance with the South has "never been stronger."
Obama also described the 1950-53 Korean war, in which the U.S. backed South Korea, as a "victory" for the South, calling South Korea a thriving and hopeful democracy in contrast to North Korea, which he said lacks electricity and where people starve to death.
The United States continues to maintain more than 28,000 troops in South Korea.
Meanwhile, Obama and his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, are expected to hold separate meetings today with Chinese President Hu Jintao as the G20 summit gets under way.
In advance of the two-day meeting, host South Korea said negotiators from the 20 countries remained far apart from any agreement on how to correct imbalances that have distorted the global economy amid China's strong growth and the slow pace of recovery from recession in the United States.
Kim Yoon-Kyung, a spokesman for the summit, said "considerable differences remain" over how currencies should be valued, and over government deficits.
U.S. officials have blamed global economic imbalances in part on China's alleged manipulation of its currency to help boost Chinese exports. But China and Germany have criticized the U.S. central bank's decision last week to inject another $600 billion into the U.S. economy, saying this seems to be aimed at boosting U.S. trade.
Obama on November 10 called on world leaders to put aside their differences and work together to speed the global economic recovery.
Obama, in a letter to the summit, said U.S. consumers who buy goods from other countries cannot by themselves restore world economic growth, but that all countries have a responsibility to cut their reliance on exports and take other measures to stimulate growth.
compiled from agency reports