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(2nd LD) S. Korea, France vow to take necessary steps over N. Korea

All News 00:01 June 04, 2016

(ATTN: RECASTS with joint statement and news conference)

By Kim Kwang-tae

PARIS, June 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Park Geun-hye and her French counterpart Francois Hollande pledged Friday to take additional steps against North Korea, if necessary, in the latest move to get Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear program.

“I would like to continue cooperation with France in the future,” Park said in a news conference with Hollande after their summit, citing France's leading role in adopting U.N. sanctions on North Korea.

France is one of the five permanent veto-wielding members of the U.N. Security Council.

North Korea is under the toughest U.N. sanctions ever over its fourth nuclear test and its long-range rocket launch earlier this year.

Still, North Korea has repeatedly rejected calls to give up its nuclear program, which it views as a powerful deterrent against what it claims is Washington's hostile policy towards it.

South Korea and France said they will thoroughly enforce the U.N. sanctions and “take additional steps, if necessary, to make sure that North Korea abandons its nuclear program and takes a path toward true change,” according to a joint statement issued after the summit.

The two sides also urged North Korea to improve its dismal human rights situation as they expressed serious concerns about the human rights record.

Last year, the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution for the second consecutive year that calls for referring the North to the International Criminal Court for human rights.

North Korea has long been accused of grave human rights abuses, ranging from holding political prisoners in concentration camps to committing torture and carrying out public executions.

Still, North Korea has bristled at outside criticism, calling it a U.S.-led attempt to topple its regime.

The two leaders also said in the statement that the two sides will work together to tackle terrorism and nuclear proliferation while facilitating military dialogue and continuing to cooperate in the defense and security areas.

Park said in a news conference that she and Hollande agreed to strengthen cooperation in combating climate change and issues on the international financial system on the occasion of South Korea's planned membership of the so-called Paris Club.

The Paris Club is an association of creditor countries with the major aim of finding sustainable solutions to payment difficulties faced by debtor countries.

“Our two countries will strengthen strategic dialogue in all areas,” Park said in the joint statement. “The bilateral relations are at their highest level.”

The summit came as Seoul and Paris commemorate the 130th anniversary of establishing diplomatic ties.

Separately, Park laid a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier at the Triumphal Arch of the Star, a famous monument in Paris, before her motorcade headed down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées towards Élysée Palace with a 146-horse-strong mounted escort from the French -- all the trappings of a state visit.



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