South Korea's President Park calls on Russia, others, to pressure Pyongyang over nuclear programme

South Korean President Park Geun Hye speaking during a plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia, on Sept 3, 2016.
South Korean President Park Geun Hye speaking during a plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia, on Sept 3, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

VLADIVOSTOK (Reuters) - South Korean President Park Geun Hye called on Russia and other major global players on Saturday (Sept 3) to increase pressure on North Korea to abandon its nuclear programme which could open the road for cooperation with Pyongyang.

"If we cannot prevent (North Korea's) development of nuclear weapons, the nuclear threat will become a reality soon," Ms Park told a business forum attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinz Abe in the Russian Far East city of Vladivostok. "In order for Pyongyang to take the decision to abandon its nuclear programme, it is important to give it a strong unified message."

Mr Putin, at the same forum, said that the international community needed to avoid any actions that would further heighten tensions with North Korea. He said Russia favoured bringing North Korea back to international negotiations over its nuclear programme. But he told a business forum in the Russian city of Vladivostok: "I think that any actions that would provoke further escalation are counter-productive."

Concerns about the threat posed by North Korea have spiralled since it conducted its fourth nuclear explosion in January and followed it up with a series of missile tests despite severe United Nations sanctions, which Pyongyang rejects as an infringement of its sovereignty.

In June, North Korea test-fired what appeared to be two mobile Musudan rockets, one of which climbed to 1,000km, or enough to fly more than 3,000km down range.

On Aug 24, Pyongyang also fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) toward Japan that travelled 500km.

"If North Korea abandons its nuclear programme and chooses the path to openness, we, together with the international community, will be ready to actively support it," Ms Park said.