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Obama In South Korea

President Barack Obama speaks in Seoul, South Korea.

"The cornerstone of our efforts is our strong alliances, including our alliance with the Republic of Korea.”

“My visit to Korea reflects the fact that the United States is leading again in the Asia Pacific -- a region that will affect American security and prosperity in the 21st century like no other,” U.S. President Barack Obama said during a press conference in Seoul with President Lee Myung-bak of the Republic of Korea. “The United State as a Pacific nation will play a larger and long-term role in shaping this region and its future. The cornerstone of our efforts is our strong alliances, including our alliance with the Republic of Korea.”

Last month, in negotiation with the United States, North Korea agreed to a series of steps to denuclearization, including a moratorium on long-range missile launches. This month, North Korea announced its intention to conduct a missile launch. “This would constitute a direct violation of Pyongyang’s own commitments and its international obligations,” President Obama said. “It would only deepen North Korea’s isolation, damage further its relations with its neighbors, and seriously undermine the prospect of future negotiations.”

President Obama, speaking to students at the Hankuk University in Seoul the next day, addressed the leaders of North Korea directly. “The United States has no hostile intent toward your country. We are committed to peace. And we are prepared to take steps to improve relations, which is why we have offered nutritional aid to North Korean mothers and children,” President Obama said.

“Your provocations and pursuit of nuclear weapons have not achieved the security you seek; they have undermined it. Instead of the dignity you desire, you're more isolated. Instead of earning the respect of the world, you've been met with strong sanctions and condemnation . . . And know this: There will be no rewards for provocations. Those days are over.”

“To the leaders of Pyongyang I say, this is the choice before you,” President Obama said in the conclusion of his message. “This is the decision that you must make. Today we say, Pyongyang, have the courage to pursue peace and give a better life to the people of North Korea.”