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Seiler: N. Korea can't split S. Korea, U.S.
By Lee Chi-dong
WASHINGTON, Aug. 1 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's traditional tactic of trying to drive a wedge between South Korea and the United States is failing as the allies stand firm in dealing with the communist nation, a senior White House official said Thursday.

   Sydney Seiler, Korea policy chief at the National Security Council (NSC), said Pyongyang's nuclear tests have deepened the consensus between Seoul and Washington on the need for "denuclearization to be a central piece of all of our actions with Pyongyang."

   "North Korea's long-term objective of trying to establish communications with the U.S. and try to seal off South Korea, it's a traditional wedging strategy," he said at a White House meeting with a group of Korean-American community leaders.

   Fears that Pyongyang will manage to talk only with Washington, bypassing Seoul, are "a thing of the past," he said.

   Seiler, who has long handled Korea affairs, cited "close and extremely transparent cooperation" between the Barack Obama administration and the governments of Presidents Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye, respectively.

   South Korean and American officials are well aware that a split between them would provide Pyongyang with remarkable negotiating leverage, said Seiler.

   He said the denuclearization of North Korea is the most important part of any approach towards the unpredictable regime.

   "It's hard to imagine significant improvement in Korean relations without progress on denuclearization," he said. "Likewise, it's hard to imagine an improvement in U.S.-DPRK (North Korea) relations or progress on the denuclearization while North Korea continues to refuse to talk about Kaesong."

   He was referring to an inter-Korean industrial complex in the North Korean border town of Kaesong, now suspended.