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North Korean provocations won’t succeed, South Korea’s Park says

South Korea's President Park Geun-hye addresses a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 8, 2013.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

South Korea's President Park Geun-hye addresses a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

World powers must end the “vicious circle” of responding to periodic North Korean provocations with actions that reward such behavior, South Korean President Park Geun-hye told Congress yesterday.

North Korea’s threats, including nuclear and missile tests, undermine security on the Korean peninsula and will be “met decisively,” she said. A strong South Korean government “backed by the might of our alliance” ensures that “no North Korean provocation can succeed,” she said.

Park said there has been a historical pattern in which North Korea threatens South Korea and, after a period of international sanctions, nations try “to patch things up” by offering “concessions and rewards” to the Pyongyang government. In the meantime, North Korea continues to advance its nuclear weapons capabilities, she said.

“It’s time to put an end to this vicious circle,” she said, drawing a standing ovation.

Park’s address to a joint meeting of Congress yesterday followed talks Tuesday with President Obama, at which the two leaders sought to display unity between the United States and South Korea in response to North Korean threats. Obama said the two longtime allies are “as united as ever.”

Park, three months into her presidency, is making her first trip abroad to mark the 60th anniversary of the U.S.-South Korean alliance. The two nations are seeking to expand cooperation on trade and energy as well as security.

Speaking in the House chamber, Park thanked the United States for its support in the Korean War, singling out for recognition four lawmakers who are veterans of that conflict, and she stressed the importance South Korea places on the alliance in the face of security challenges.

South Korea is maintaining the “highest level of readiness” and responding to North Korea’s actions “resolutely but calmly,” she said, noting that the South Korean financial markets have taken the harsh rhetoric from Pyongyang in stride.

Park said she will work on building trust with North Korea since “I am confident that trust is the path to peace” and eventual reunification. Still, she said North Korea needs to give up its nascent nuclear arsenal and become a “responsible member” of the international community.

“The Republic of Korea will never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea,” she said. “Pyongyang’s provocations will be met decisively.”

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