(6th LD) Park, Obama stress China's role on N.K. nukes, sanctions
(ATTN: ADDS photo; UPDATES throughout with more remarks, details)
By Song Sang-ho
VIENTIANE, Sept. 6 (Yonhap) -- The leaders of South Korea and the United States on Tuesday stressed China’s role in enforcing sanctions against North Korea and resolving the communist state's nuclear conundrum, saying the allies would continue communications with Beijing.
During their summit in the Laotian capital of Vientiane, President Park Geun-hye and her U.S. counterpart Barack Obama reaffirmed that the allies would mobilize "all possible means" to counter Pyongyang's continued provocations, which they said pose a threat not only to the Korean Peninsula but also the entire region.
The bilateral summit followed a series of provocations, including the launch of three mid-range ballistic missiles Monday.
"Considering that China's role is important in effectively implementing sanctions against the North and resolving its nuclear problem, South Korea and the U.S. agreed to continue communication with China through various channels," Park said during a joint press conference.
President Park Geun-hye and her U.S. counterpart Barack Obama speak during a press conference after their summit in the Laotian capital of Vietiane on Sept. 6, 2016. (Yonhap)
The South Korean president was referring to the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) sanctions, which were imposed in March in response to Pyongyang's nuclear test in January and long-range rocket launch the month after that.
Touching on the latest sanctions, Obama said that the allies would work "diligently" to implement them.
"We are going to work together to make sure we're closing loopholes and make them even more effective," the U.S. president said.
Obama, in addition, stressed that Washington's commitment to the defense of South Korea is "unwavering."
In a joint press statement, the two leaders said that the allies would maintain robust countermeasures against the provocative state through Washington's extended deterrence and the strengthening of combined defense capabilities, including the planned deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system to the peninsula.
Extended deterrence refers to America's stated commitment to defend its ally by mobilizing all military capabilities, nuclear and conventional, to cope with North Korea's aggression and provocations.
As for the allies' plan to station a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, Obama stresesd that it is a "purely defensive" measure.
At the press conference, Park also touched on the North's dismal human rights record, saying improving the rights of North Koreans will be a "crucial stepping stone" towards national reunification.
"Reunification will provide opportunities for North Koreans to be treated equally," she said.
Kim Kyou-hyun, senior presidential secretary for foreign affairs, said that the summit was meaningful as the two leaders sent a "grave" warning against Pyongyang's provocations with the U.S. leader reaffirming Washington's strong commitment to the defense of its Asian ally.
Park and Obama are currently in Vientiane to attend a series of summits with the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Tuesday's summit was the sixth between Park and Obama. Their last summit was held on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C. in March.
Laos is the third and final leg of Park's eight-day trip that also took her to Russia and China.
Park is to return home on Friday.
President Park Geun-hye (L) shakes hands with U.S. President Barack Obama before their talks on the sidelines of a series of summits with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Vientiane, Laos, on Sept. 6, 2016.