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Seoul urges North to engage

March 01, 2009|Reuters

SEOUL — South Korea's president told destitute North Korea today to abandon its plans to develop nuclear weapons and return to talks with its neighbor.

North Korea has stoked regional tensions recently by announcing it is readying a test flight of its longest-range missile, which is designed to carry a nuclear weapon as far as Alaska but has not been successfully flown, U.S. and South Korean officials have said.

"Of all the countries in the world, South Korea cares most about the lives and happiness of the North Korean people. What protects North Korea are not nuclear weapons and missiles, but cooperation with the South and the international community," President Lee Myung-bak said.

"Denuclearization is a shortcut for North Korea that allows it to grow into a member of the international community," he said in a speech to mark an uprising against the 1910-1945 Japanese occupation of the Korean peninsula.

Analysts said the North was using brinkmanship to pressure the new U.S. government to reverse tough policies.

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