U.S. President Barack Obama
U.S. President Barack Obama said Tuesday his country will increase support for six-nation talks on ending North Korea's nuclear program, saying recent developments suggest the multilateral talks are the only way to denuclearize the communist nation, a spokesman for the South Korean presidential office was quoted as saying by Yonhap News.
Obama made the remarks during a telephone conversation with his South Korean counterpart Lee Myung-bak.
"Regarding the North Korean nuclear issue, President Obama said it is important for the countries to increase their cooperation in the six-party talks," spokesman Lee Dong-kwan was quoted as telling a press briefing.
The U.S. President was quoted as saying he has learned the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula can be realized at an earlier date through close cooperation within the six-way talks, "considering the recent series of developments."
President Lee Myung-bak
Obama did not elaborate, but the remarks came amid reports that Pyongyang may be preparing to test-launch a long-range missile.
Though North Korea has a self-imposed moratorium on tests of long- and intermediate-range missiles, it test-fired a Taepodong-2 missile in July 2006, three months before it conducted its first-ever nuclear detonation.
The Taepodong missile is believed to have a payload of 500 kilograms, which theoretically is enough to carry a small nuclear warhead, and also have a maximum range of 6,000 kilometers, which would include Alaska and western parts of the U.S. in its range.
Lee thanked Obama for expressing such a firm stance on the North Korean nuclear issue and how to resolve it, his spokesman said.
Tuesday's telephone call was the first official dialogue between Lee and Obama since the latter was inaugurated Jan. 20.