S Korea, US to 'maximise' bid to stop North

2012-12-04 12:00
(File, AP)

(File, AP)

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Seoul - South Korea and the United States will "maximise" diplomatic efforts to stop North Korea's planned rocket launch, Seoul's top nuclear envoy said on Tuesday as he left for talks in Washington.

Lim Sung-Nam's US trip will be dominated by Pyongyang's announcement on Saturday that it intends to launch a long-range rocket between 10 and 22 December.

The United States and its key Asian allies South Korea and Japan have condemned the move as a disguised ballistic missile test that violates UN resolutions triggered by Pyongyang's two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.

Lim told Yonhap news agency that his talks with US officials would seek to "maximise diplomatic efforts and the co-ordination between South Korea and the US to block North Korea's launch".

Lim met in Seoul on Monday with ambassadors from China, Russia and Japan - other members of the six-party talks on North Korea - to discuss a common response.

Pyongyang insists the launch is a "peaceful" and purely scientific mission aimed at placing a satellite in orbit.

China 'concerned'

A previous attempt in April failed when the carrier exploded shortly after take-off.

During his three-day visit to Washington, Lim will hold talks with his US counterpart, Glyn Davies, and other senior officials.

China, the North's closest ally, has expressed "concern" at the launch plan, with the foreign ministry urging "relevant parties [to] act in a way that is more conducive to the stability of the Korean peninsula".

Russia on Monday added its "regret" at Pyongyang's announcement and noted that North Korea was obliged to abide by UN resolutions.

Analysts say the international community is running out of options for pressuring the impoverished but nuclear-armed North, which is already under layers of sanctions.

The six-party, aid-for-denuclearisation talks have been at a standstill since Pyongyang walked of the forum in April 2009. It staged its second nuclear test a month later.

Read more on:    south korea  |  north korea  |  nuclear  |  north korea nuclear programme
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