- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 2, 2009

LONDON (AP) - President Barack Obama and his South Korean counterpart agreed Thursday on the need for a “stern, united” international response if North Korea goes ahead with a planned rocket launch, according to South Korean officials. Obama pledged to push for “peace and stability” on the Korean peninsula.

Before vaulting into global talks about the economic crisis on Thursday, Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak dealt on the sidelines of the summit with the latest flare-up with the North.

North Korea says it will send a communications satellite into orbit on a multistage rocket in the coming days. The U.S., South Korea and Japan call the plan a cover for testing long-range missile technology. Obama told Chinese President Hu Jintao separately on Wednesday that the U.S. would consider such an act provocative and that the U.S. would seek U.N. Security Council punishment in response.

The South Korean presidential office issued a statement after the Obama-Lee meeting saying that the two leaders had agreed to keep working on a verifiable dismantling of North Korea’s nuclear programs.

“They agreed on the need for a stern, united response from the international community if North Korea launches a long-range rocket, and to work together in the course of that,” the statement added.

The White House had no immediate comment on the meeting between Obama and Lee.

His helicopter grounded by fog, Obama arrived by car for the summit of the world’s richest and developing economies, where leaders hope to come to terms on how to spark a global recovery, regulate their financial systems and avoid costly trade protectionism. The summit’s host, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, gave Obama another warm greeting following their upbeat visit and news conference Wednesday.

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