by Yoo Seungki
SEOUL, April 25 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama and his South Korean counterpart Park Geun-hye held a summit here on Friday, agreeing to maintain a close cooperation in deterring the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) from carrying out a fresh nuclear test, but they failed to share an unified position on Japan's return to the militaristic past.
Park said in a joint press conference that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had yet to carry into practice what he said earlier, which resulted in a trilateral meeting between the three presidents last month on the sidelines of nuclear security summit in the Netherlands.
Obama hosted the trilateral summit with Park and Abe, expecting to serve as a mediator between the two key U.S. allies.
The mediation cast a silver lining in the clouded relations between Seoul and Tokyo, but hopes were dashed after some 150 Japanese lawmakers paid their respects to the notorious Yasukuni shrine on the eve of Obama's visit to Japan. Obama arrived in Seoul Friday afternoon after staying in Japan for three days.
On Monday, Abe sent a ritual offering to the shrine, where 14 World War II leaders convicted as war criminal are honored along with other war dead, to satisfy his rightist supporters. Abe became the first sitting prime minister in seven years to visit the shrine in December last year, angering South Korea and China.
Park said Abe promised to inherit apologies made by past cabinets for wartime atrocities and war of aggression, but she noted it remained necessary for Abe to put what he said into practice, citing the Kono and Murayama statements.
Asked about the Seoul-Tokyo historical issues, Obama described "comfort woman" as a significantly bad violation of human rights though it happened during wartime, saying the victims should be heard and respected.
The U.S. president, however, said the prime minister and people in Japan know about the fact that such past must be recognized, reiterating its ambiguous, or neutral, position that the two allies should leave the past sufferings behind and see their bilateral interests a step forward.
Touching on territorial disputes, Obama said parties concerned should resolve any territorial issues according to law and diplomacy, adding his message on this has not been changed.
Meanwhile, Obama and Park agreed to DPRK issues amid what South Korea said rising missile and nuclear threats from the DPRK. Seoul 's Defense Ministry said increased activity was detected at the DPRK's main nuclear test site after the country threatened to conduct a "new form of nuclear test" last month.
Pyongyang fired around 90 short-range and self-propelled artillery shells in late February and March before test-firing medium-range Rodong missiles, which had landed in waters off Japan.
The two heads of state agreed to maintain their close cooperation in all issues on the DPRK to achieve the joint goal, or the goal of the international community as well, of complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the DPRK in a peaceful manner.
The two allies reaffirmed that UN Security Council censured the DPRK's ballistic missile launch, which violated four resolutions of the council, demanding Pyongyang not conduct further provocations that will violate international obligations and pledges.
They urged the DPRK to stop "doing further threatening actions, " saying the two countries will cooperate with the international community to secure a complete and transparent implementation of all Security Council resolutions related to the DPRK.
Obama and Park agreed to reconsider when the wartime operational control of allied forces will be transferred to South Korea from the U.S. Forces Korea commander, citing a change in the region's security environment caused by lasting missile and nuclear threats from the DPRK.
The wartime command of combined forces was initially supposed to be transferred to South Korea in 2007, but was postponed twice to December, 2015. Seoul has asked Washington to delay the transfer following Pyongyang's third nuclear test in February last year.
Park said, "If North Korea buys time, while efforts are being made on dialogue, and advances its nuclear capability, the meaning of the six-party talks will disappear."
This will lead to arms race in the region, and calls to stop such races will become unjustifiable, Park said.
Obama also conveyed his token of condolences for victims of the South Korean ferry sinking disaster. The president proposed to the woman leader, before starting a dialogue with her, paying a silent tribute to the victims and the dead during the ferry sinking incident where more than 300 people have been confirmed dead or missing.
The U.S. president expressed a deep sorrow as a great damage was done to especially young people, showing his deep condolences to all the victims as a representative of all American people.
Obama arrived here Friday afternoon as a second leg of his four- nation Asian tour after staying in Japan for three days. His week- long tour will also see the president visit Malaysia and the Philippines.
Obama arrives in S.Korea for summit with Park on DPRK nuclear program
SEOUL, April 25 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama arrived here Friday afternoon to hold summit with his South Korean counterpart Park Geun-hye to discuss issues of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s nuclear program and the South Korea-U.S. alliance amid rising tensions in the region.Full Story
S. Korean president asks China to deter DPRK's nuclear test
SEOUL, April 25 (Xinhua) -- South Korean President Park Geun-hye asked China Friday to exercise its leadership in deterring the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) from seeking a fresh nuclear test.
Park made the comments in a joint press conference in Seoul with visiting U.S. President Barack Obama. Full story