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2012/03/24 17:03 KST
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(LEAD) Lee, U.N. chief call N. Korea's rocket plan 'grave provocation'

SEOUL, March 24 (Yonhap) -- President Lee Myung-bak and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon agreed Saturday to work closely together to cope with North Korea's planned rocket launch, sharing concern that the move is a "grave provocation" violating U.N. Security Council resolutions, the presidential office said.

   Ban arrived in Seoul earlier in the day to attend the Nuclear Security Summit, set for Monday and Tuesday, a biennial conference of global leaders aimed at discussing ways to keep nuclear weapons and fissile materials away from the hands of terrorist groups.

   The summit takes place under the shadow of North Korea's plan to launch a long-range rocket next month to purportedly put an observation satellite into orbit, a long-running pretext that the provocative regime has used to disguise banned missile tests.

   "President Lee and Secretary-General Ban shared an understanding that North Korea's announcement of a long-range rocket launch plan represents a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and a grave provocation against the international community, and expressed concerns about this," the office said in a statement.

   Lee appreciated Ban's quick announcement of a statement urging the communist nation to call off the rocket plan, and agreed to cooperate closely in dealing with the issue, the statement said.

   Presidential spokesman Park Jeong-ha said Lee and Ban also agreed that it is a "self-contradiction" for a nation whose people are suffering from hunger to go ahead with a rocket launch that costs an enormous amount of money.

   Lee also asked for the U.N.'s cooperation in improving the North's human rights, and Ban agreed.

   The two leaders also agreed to deepen cooperation in development and green growth, it said.

   Ban spoke highly of his native South Korea for its contribution to global prosperity and security, noting that Seoul played host to the G20 economic summit in 2010 and is hosting the nuclear security conference next week, the statement said.

   "It is of great meaning that the Nuclear Security Summit takes place in Seoul as nuclear terrorism has emerged as a global issue and interest in nuclear safety runs high," Ban told Lee at the start of their meeting.

   "As a Korean-born U.N. secretary general, I take pride in that this is taking place in Seoul. A world without nuclear weapons is one of the mottos of the United Nations," he said.

   Lee said that the previous nuclear summit produced an agreement on reducing fissile materials and a similar agreement will be coming from next week's meeting.

   Lee also praised the U.N.'s roles in the international community and expressed hope that the U.N. exhibition hall to be set up during May's Yeosu World Expo in South Korea will further publicize the organization's roles around the world, the statement said.