(ATTN: RECASTS lead; UPDATES throughout with details)
By Song Sang-ho
VIENTIANE, Sept. 6 (Yonhap) -- The leaders of South Korea and the United States on Tuesday stressed China’s role in enforcing sanctions against North Korea and resolving the communist state's nuclear conundrum, saying the allies would continue communications with Beijing.
During their summit in the Laotian capital of Vientiane, President Park Geun-hye and her U.S. counterpart Barack Obama reaffirmed that the allies would mobilize "all possible means" to counter Pyongyang's continued provocations, which they said pose a threat not only to the Korean Peninsula but also the entire region.
The bilateral summit followed a series of provocations, including the launch of three mid-range ballistic missiles Monday.
"Considering that China's role is important in effectively implementing sanctions against the North and resolving its nuclear problem, South Korea and the U.S. agreed to continue communication with China through various channels," Park said during a joint press conference.
The South Korean president was referring to the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) sanctions, which were imposed in March in response to Pyongyang's nuclear test in January and long-range rocket launch the month after that.
In a joint press statement, the two leaders stressed that the allies would maintain robust countermeasures against the provocative state through Washington's extended deterrence and the strengthening of combined defense capabilities, including the planned deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system to the peninsula.
Extended deterrence refers to America's stated commitment to defend its ally by mobilizing all military capabilities, nuclear and conventional, to cope with North Korea's aggression and provocations.
The press statement also pointed out that the allies will step up their efforts to strengthen the enforcement of UNSC sanctions on Pyongyang.
At the conference, Park also touched on the North's dismal human rights record, saying improving the rights of North Koreans will be a "crucial stepping stone" towards national reunification.
"Reunification will provide opportunities for North Koreans to be treated equally," she said.
Park and Obama are currently in Vientiane to attend a series of summits with the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Tuesday's summit was the first between Park and Obama since their last meeting held on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C. in March.
Laos is the third and final leg of Park's eight-day trip that also took her to Russia and China.
Park is to return home on Friday.
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