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Clinton urges NKorea to stop provocation

SEOUL, Feb 20 – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned North Korea on Friday to stop provocative actions, saying it would not improve relations with the United States by insulting the South and refusing talks.

Speaking after talks with her South Korean counterpart Yu Myung-Hwan, she urged the communist state to live up to previous commitments and dismantle its nuclear weapons programme.

"We maintain our joint resolve to work together and through the six-party talks to bring about complete and verifiable denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula," she told a joint press conference in Seoul.

She also announced the appointment of Stephen Bosworth, a career diplomat, as the new US envoy for North Korea.

Clinton, who is on the third stop of a four-nation tour of Asia, said the development of democracy and prosperity in South Korea was "in stark contrast to the tyranny and poverty across the border to the North."

Adding to tensions fuelled by its reported missile launch preparations, the North’s military said Thursday that an armed clash with the South could break out at any time.

Clinton reassured Seoul, a key US ally and host to about 28,500 US troops, that "there is no issue on which we are more united than North Korea."

She went on to hail Seoul’s "calm resolve and determination in face of the provocative and uphelpful statements and actions by the North."

"North Korea is not going to get a different relationship with the United States while insulting and refusing dialogue with the Republic of Korea," she added, using the official name for South Korea.

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Clinton said the North’s behaviour "presents a number of important foreign policy challenges for the US, the region and the world," and that Bosworth was "up to the task."

North Korea conducted its first ever nuclear weapons test in October 2006. It later agreed to disable its atomic programme in return for energy aid and diplomatic concessions.

However six-nation talks, which group the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States, have been stalled for months amid arguments over how to verify the denuclearisation process.


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