UK & World News

  • 26 March 2012, 11:32

Obama Calls On North Korea To 'Pursue Peace'

Barack Obama has urged North Korea "to have the courage to pursue peace" while warning Iran that time is running out over its nuclear stand-off.

Speaking in Seoul, South Korea, ahead of a summit, the US President told leaders of North Korea America has no hostile intent towards them but they must give up their nuclear weapons.

"Today we say: Pyongyang, have the courage to pursue peace and give a better life to the people of North Korea," he said.

"I want to speak directly to the leaders in Pyongyang. The United States has no hostile intent towards your country. We are committed to peace."

Mr Obama said the internationally isolated country needs to change its ways because continuing down the same path will lead to "more broken dreams" and "more isolation."

He went on to say the international community has made progress in reducing the threat of nuclear material but was "under no illusions".

"Even as we have more work to do, we can already say with confidence that we have more nuclear weapons than we need," he said.

"I firmly believe that we can ensure the security of the United States and our allies, maintain a strong deterrent against any threat, and still pursue further reductions in our nuclear arsenal."

Mr Obama also warned Iran that time was running out to resolve the stand-off over its nuclear programme through diplomacy.

"There is time to solve this diplomatically. It's always my preference to solve these matters diplomatically," he said.

"But time is short. Iran must act with the seriousness and sense of urgency that this moment demands."

UK deputy prime minister Nick Clegg is also attending the summit in South Korea.

He has announced a new trade agreement between Britain and Korea, which is expected to add 500m a year to the UK economy and create 2bn of additional export opportunities for UK businesses.

Mr Clegg said: "It marks a new and even stronger era for trade between the UK and South Korea, and will mean more jobs in the UK and a significant boost to our economy."

Bilateral trade between the two countries is already around 6.5bn, while Britain is Korea's second largest European trading partner after Germany. Well over half of Korea's investment in the EU in 2010 and 2011 was in the UK.

Mr Clegg has also secured a deal that will see the South Korean National Pension Service - one of the biggest in the world - set up a new base in London.