President Barack Obama on Sunday urged China to use its influence to stop North Korea’s “bad behaviour” in a nuclear standoff with the West and hinted at tougher sanctions if the reclusive state goes ahead with a rocket launch next month.
Such a launch would only further isolate the impoverished North, which much show its sincerity if on-again-off-again six-party aid-for-disarmament talks are to restart, Obama said.
Seoul and Washington say the launch is a disguised test of ballistic missile. North Korea says it merely wants to put a satellite into orbit. Obama said that Beijing’s actions of “rewarding bad behaviour (and) turning a blind eye to deliberate provocations” were obviously not working, adding he would raise the matter at a meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao on Monday.
“I believe that China is very sincere that it does not want to see North Korea with a nuclear weapon,” he told a news conference in Seoul before a global summit on nuclear security. “But it is going to have to act on that interest in a sustained way.”
Obama’s comments were his strongest push yet to get China to use its influence to rein in its ally North Korea and dovetails with recent calls for Beijing to meet its responsibilities as a rising world power.
Obama: North Korea will achieve ‘nothing’ by threats
US President Barack Obama warned Sunday that North Korea would achieve “nothing” by making threats, and said the country would only deepen its isolation if it carried out a planned rocket launch.
“North Korea will achieve nothing by threats or by provocations,” Obama said in a joint news conference with South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak on the eve of a nuclear security summit in Seoul.
Obama, Erdogan talk non-lethal aid to Syrian opposition
President Barack Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday discussed providing medical supplies and communications support to the Syrian opposition but there was no talk of providing lethal aid for rebel forces, a U.S. official said.
White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes, speaking to reporters after the two leaders met on the eve of a nuclear security summit in Seoul, said Washington and Ankara were open to considering further “non-lethal” aid for the Syrian opposition at a “Friends of Syria” meeting in Turkey on April 1.
“We worked on a common agenda in terms of how we can support both humanitarian efforts…(and) the efforts of Koffi Annan to bring about much needed change (in Syria),” Obama said after his meeting with Erdogan, a sharp critic of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Obama visits border amid N. Korea tensions
US President Barack Obama peered deep into North Korea Sunday, as he contemplated Pyongyang’s planned rocket launch and his first showdown with untested leader Kim Jong-Un.
Obama stood behind bulletproof glass at the tense inter-Korean border scanning the wooded hills of the Stalinist North, then gazed out at a distant North Korean flag, flying at half mast in memory of late strongman Kim Jong-Il.
The president told some of the 28,500 US soldiers helping to guard the world’s last Cold War land frontier, that they were part of a “long line” of Americans who had granted South Korea the chance to prosper.
“You guys are at freedom’s frontier,” Obama said. “The contrast between South Korea and North Korea could not be clearer, could not be starker. “I could not be prouder of what you do.”
Obama’s visit was meant as a strong sign of support for South Korea, with which he has formed perhaps his closest bond with an Asian power since taking office in 2009 and reorienting US foreign policy towards the Pacific.
It comes as tensions rise with Pyongyang, which says it will launch a satellite next month.