SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - South Korea's president warned
Saturday that his country will not let North Korea use its recent
nuclear and missile tests to win concessions and that Pyongyang
needs to return to talks aimed at ending its nuclear program.
The communist nation has escalated tensions in the region in
recent weeks after conducting its second nuclear test and launching
a barrage of missiles. The North also appeared to be preparing to
test a long-range ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S.
"I would like to make it clear that there won't be any
compromise" with North Korea when the country threatens the
South's security, President Lee Myung-bak said in a speech marking
Memorial Day at a national cemetery in Seoul.
Lee did not elaborate on what kind of compromises he was
referring to. But some experts believe the North is using its
nuclear and missile tests, and the trial of two American
journalists, to strengthen its position for possible talks with the
U.S. in order to win concessions or much-needed economic aid.
"North Korea should keep its promise to denuclearize the
peninsula and come forward to inter-Korean dialogue," Lee added.
Lee also called on the military to have perfect defense
readiness during his tour to Osan Air Base near Seoul, where he met
top South Korean and U.S. military officials, according to his
office. The U.S. has some 28,500 troops in South Korea to help
deter the possible North's aggression.
His warning came as seven key nations sent a draft U.N.
resolution with proposed new sanctions against North Korea to their
governments for review. Ambassadors were expected to discuss
reactions from their governments next week.
Closed-door meetings have been held since May 26, a day after
North Korea's underground atomic blast.
The U.S. will impose its own financial sanctions on the North
apart from possible U.N. punishments, South Korea's Chosun Ilbo
newspaper reported Friday. The U.S. moves call for blacklisting
foreign financial institutions that help the North launder money
and conduct other dubious deals, it said.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg briefed Lee on
the sanctions at a meeting Thursday, the paper said, citing an
unidentified official at the presidential office. The U.S. Embassy
in Seoul could not confirm the report.
Many analysts believe economic sanctions against the isolated
North will not be effective unless China actively implements them.
Pyongyang relies heavily on China for food and energy aid and
imports. More than 70 percent of the North's total trade is with
A U.S. measure imposed in 2005 on Banco Delta Asia in the
Chinese territory of Macau effectively led to the North being
severed from the international financial system, as other
institutions voluntarily severed their dealings with the bank and
the North. Pyongyang stayed away from nuclear disarmament talks for
more than a year in retaliation.
Complicating matters, two U.S. journalists were believed to be
standing trial in North Korea, but Pyongyang has released no
information since the scheduled start of the proceedings Thursday.
They were arrested near the China-North Korean border three months
ago and accused of "hostile acts" and illegally entering the
In Washington on Friday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
called on the North to release the women and allow them to return
Separately, Lee also renewed calls on North Korea to release a
South Korean man being held in the North over allegations he
slandered the communist regime. He was detained in late March at a
joint industrial complex in the northern border town of Kaesong but
North Korea has denied Seoul's access to him and his whereabouts