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US Defense Chief Warns N. Korea on Provocations

Posted June. 01, 2009 08:03,   


U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said yesterday that U.S. President Barack Obama is open to dialogue with authoritarian governments willing to scrap belligerent policies, but that the president is not naïve, though hopeful.

In a news conference Saturday after delivering the keynote speech at the Asia Security Summit in Singapore, Gates said, “Our goal is the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. We will not accept North Korea as a nuclear weapons state.”

“I think that everyone in the room is familiar with the tactics that the North Koreans use. They create a crisis and the rest of us pay a price to return to the status quo ante. As the expression goes in the U.S., I`m tired of buying the same horse twice."

He added, "There are other ways perhaps to get the North Koreans to change their approach."

Gates also warned North Korea that if it threatens the United States and its Asian allies, Washington will promptly react, adding, “We will not stand idly by as North Korea builds the capability to wreak destruction on any target in the region or on us.”

The secretary said the North is not considered to pose a direct military threat to the United States, so Washington has no plan to build up American troops in the region. He added, however, the communist country’s actions are increasing the potential for an arms race in Asia.

In their first trilateral talks the same day on the sidelines of the security forum, defense chiefs from South Korea, the United States and Japan agreed that they will not reward North Korea for its provocations, such as its second nuclear test and short-range missile launches.

South Korean Defense Minister Lee Sang-hee, Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada and Gates condemned the North’s provocations and agreed to sternly deal with them, according to Lee.

Lee also said the three concurred that Pyongyang will not be rewarded for its wrong behavior.

They also agreed that the North’s provocations are a clear violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1718 and agreements made in the six-party talks and threaten the security of both the Korean Peninsula and the world. They also stressed the significance of united and strong responses to the North’s threat.

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