- The Washington Times - Friday, April 3, 2009

STRASBOURG, France — President Obama on Friday called on North Korea to stop its plans to launch a ballistic missile in the next few days and said the United States would respond by leading an international movement to penalize the country.

“We have made very clear to the North Korean’s that their missile launch is provocative,” Mr. Obama said after meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy. “They should stop the launch.”

The president also said Pyongyang’s response to messages telling officials not to launch the rocket have been “not just unhelpful but has resorted to the sort of language that has led to North Korea’s isolation in the international community for a very long time.”

Mr. Obama promised that if the regime of North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-il launches the rocket, which could be used to deliver a nuclear warhead, then the U.S. will “work with all interested parties in the international community to take appropriate steps to let North Korea know that it can’t threaten the safety and the security of other countries with impunity.”

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One day after meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in London, Mr. Obama elaborated on one of his main points of criticism of the Kremlin, which is still very much controlled by Russian Prime Minister and former President Vladimir Putin.

Mr. Obama called himself a “critic” of Russia’s invasion last summer of Georgia, a former Soviet bloc country, and said that there has not been “a stabilization of that situation.”

“I think we need to send a very clear message to Russia that we want to work with them, but we can’t go back to the old way of doing business,” he said, linking talks with Russia to the effort to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

“All have an interest in preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” Mr. Obama said.

The president, who will attend the 60th summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on Friday and Saturday, also said he would like to “see Europe have much more robust defense capabilities.”

“We’re not looking to be the patron of Europe. We’re looking to be partners … the more capable they are defensively, the more we can act in concert on the shared challenges that we face,” Mr. Obama said.


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