Obama wants North Korea to drop rocket launch (Lead)

March 25th, 2012 - 7:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Seoul, March 25 (IANS) US President Barack Obama Sunday pressed North Korea to drop its plan for a rocket launch, saying the move could scuttle a food aid deal and dim prospects to resume disarmament talks.

“North Korea (DPRK) will achieve nothing by threats or provocations,” Xinhua quoted Obama as saying during a press conference in Seoul after talks with his South Korean counterpart Lee Myung-bak.

The talks was held on the eve of the two-day Nuclear Security Summit.

While the North Korea claimed the launch will abide by international norms and blasts its critics for continuing “hostile policy” toward Pyongyang, South Korea and the US view the move as a plan to test a long-range missile that could possibly carry nuclear weapons.

Washington has warned the planned launch can potentially scrap a recently pledged food aid deal with Pyongyang.

It will be “difficult” to provide nutritional assistance in time of tension, Obama said, voicing scepticism over whether aid would reach its intended beneficiaries.

The launch can put a damper on prospects for resuming six-party talks aimed at ridding North Korea of its nuclear programme, he said.

Earlier in the day, Obama undertook his first visit to the demilitarised zone (DMZ) that divides North and South Korea.

The zone is a heavily fortified 2.5-mile-wide stretch of land that has separated North and South Korea since 1953.

The border area is a symbol of lingering military tension on the Korean peninsula, where some 28,500 US troops are based as a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War.

On Monday, Obama is scheduled to join the Seoul summit, a sequel to the inaugural Washington summit in 2010 where he set the goal of securing the world’s loose nuclear materials by 2014.

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