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Full text of Obama's interview with Yonhap News Agency

All Headlines 12:00 November 13, 2009

By Hwang Doo-hyong

WASHINGTON, Nov. 12 (Yonhap) -- The following is the full text of U.S. President Barack Obama's interview with Yonhap News Agency.

President Obama: I am very much looking forward to my trip to Asia and visiting Seoul and meeting with President Lee (Myung-bak). President Lee and I have established a very strong working relationship, which I think is quite evident in our close coordination on global issues, particularly on North Korea. So let me first start with your question on North Korea.

Question: Mr. President. what is your view of North Korea's nuclear and missile programs? Are you prepared to hold bilateral talks with North Korea? Also, do you think the six-party talks will work to denuclearize the North or do you have any other solutions in mind if the talks fail?

President Obama: North Korea's nuclear and missile capabilities are a grave concern, not only to the Republic of Korea and the United States, but to the international community. This is an issue that President Lee and I have discussed in depth and we will hold consultations on this and other subjects in Seoul later this month. President Lee and I are in full agreement on the need to achieve a comprehensive resolution of the nuclear, missile, and proliferation problems, and cooperation between our two governments is extremely close. We believe the six-party talks are the best framework for reaching peaceful resolution and that the September 2005 Joint Statement clearly lays out the goals we must achieve. We are open to a bilateral meeting as part of the six-party process if that will lead to an expeditious resumption of the denuclearization negotiations.

North Korea's attempt to acquire weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them is destabilizing and represents a threat to peace and security. This is why the United Nations Security Council adopted strong measures under Resolution 1874 and why the U.N. members states are enforcing the provisions of those resolutions. Pursuit of nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems makes North Korea and the region less secure, whereas negotiations in the six-party process to achieve the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula can bring security and prosperity to North Korea and the region.

This is the choice that North Korea faces. North Korea has the opportunity to move towards acceptance by the international community if it will comply with its international obligations and live up to its own commitments. By taking irreversible steps towards the complete elimination of its nuclear program, North Korea will be following the peaceful path towards security and respect.

Question: You supported South Korea's bid to host the G-20 summit in November next year. What kind of role do you expect South Korea to play in the G-20 forum?

President Obama: South Korea's emergence as host of the G-20 leaders meeting next year is the latest evidence that South Korea is playing an important leadership role on the world stage. President Lee has done a superb job steering South Korea's economy through the economic downturn and now on an upward trajectory, and I am looking forward to his continued strong leadership in the Asia Pacific region on the economic policy front.

South Korea's hosting of the G-20 next year is also a prime example of the economic success it has had in a relatively short period of time and its movement into the ranks of the world's leading economies. South Korea's success serves as a prime example for still developing economies and its hosting of the G-20 next year is demonstrative of the global leadership role that it is undertaking. I am pleased that South Korea has agreed to host the G-20 meeting next year and the U.S. will help support their efforts to ensure that the meeting is a success.

hdh@yna.co.kr
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