US, Russia agree NK‘s rocket launch would violate UN resolutions
WASHINGTON (Yonhap) -- U.S. President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, agreed Monday that a North Korean long-range rocket launch, if carried out, would be a breach of U.N. Security Council resolutions that prohibit Pyongyang from being involved in ballistic missile activities.
At a meeting on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit in Seoul, the leaders also reaffirmed their commitment to diplomatic solutions to issues involving North Korea, Iran and Syria.
"And with respect to North Korea, we are going to be both sending messages to North Korea that they should not go forward with this missile launch, which would violate existing U.N. Security Council resolutions," Obama said after a bilateral summit with Medvedev. "And our hope is that we can resolve these issues diplomatically."
North Korea is subject to U.N. sanctions imposed after its nuclear and long-range missile tests in 2009. North Korea is banned from any launch using ballistic-missile technology.
The U.S. will apparently need Russia's cooperation in dealing with North Korea, especially if it launches a rocket in mid-April as it announced. Russia, along with China, has often sought to water down tough sanctions on Pyongyang sought by the U.S. and its allies.
The outgoing Russian leader said he discussed "all main issues" with Obama, but did not elaborate.
"We also spoke about the situation in the Middle East. We touched upon the Iranian nuclear program, the North Korean nuclear program, other sensitive issues -- Afghanistan cooperation," he said.
A senior White House official, meanwhile, told reporters later Obama and Medvedev agreed that any provocative act by North Korea would only deepen its isolation.
"On North Korea, the two leaders, again, agreed that the proposed missile launch that the North Koreans have indicated they are going to pursue would be in violation of existing U.N. Security Council resolutions," said Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications.
Obama made clear, he added, that "the new leadership in North Korea has to understand that only by abandoning this type of provocative behavior will they gain the respect of the international community and the future that their people deserve. And I think there's agreement that provocative acts like this will only increase North Korea's isolation going forward."
Regarding Iran, meanwhile, Obama and Medvedev expressed support for negotiations led by the so-called P5 plus one, which refers to the standing members of the Security Council and Germany.
The process, expected to resume soon, offers an opportunity to "resolve diplomatically the critical issue of ensuring that Iran is abiding by its international obligations, that will allow it to rejoin the community of nations, and have peaceful uses of nuclear energy while not developing nuclear weapons," Obama said.
The leaders also backed former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's efforts to help end a year-long bloody conflict in Syria.
"I told (the) U.S. president we believe that his mission is very good and we hope that he will be able to reach good results, and to somewhat appease, at least initially, the situation, and would help to establish communication between various public groups and forces that exist in Syria," Medvedev said.
He said Moscow and Washington still have time to iron out differences on NATO's plan for a missile defense system in Europe.
The U.S. says it is needed to counter Iran's missile threats, but Russia is concerned that it could be used against Russia.
"Of course, we also spoke about the missile defense. I believe we still have time...time hasn't run out," Medvedev said. "Now, in my view, time has come for discussions between technical aspects and, of course, we remain at our own positions. But I believe we still have time to agree on a balanced solution."