Park says N. Korea must be forced to change

BERN, Jan. 21 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Park Geun-hye has called for North Korea to be given no option but to change, suggesting that Seoul work harder to rally international pressure on the communist regime that has refused to abandon its nuclear program.

Park made the remarks during a summit with Swiss President Didier Burkhalter on Monday, saying it is hard to see any "sincerity" in Pyongyang's recent charm offensive toward the South and that the North's leadership must make the strategic decision to give up its nuclear program.

"Unless North Korea changes voluntarily, we have to create an environment where it cannot help but change," Park said during the summit, asking the Swiss president to cooperate closely on the issue, according to Ju Chul-ki, senior presidential foreign affairs secretary.

Park told a joint news conference that the two countries agreed to make concerted efforts to make Pyongyang give up its nuclear program. Burkhalter also told the conference that Switzerland is ready to do whatever is necessary for stability on the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea has stepped up conciliatory gestures toward the South recently, demanding that the South call off its upcoming joint military drills with the United States and calling for an end to all slander and hostile military actions between the two sides.

South Korea has dismissed the North's overtures as a "deceptive" ploy amid concern that the conciliatory gestures could be a precursor to provocations. Pyongyang has a track record of carrying out provocations after making conciliatory gestures toward South Korea.

During a visit to India on Saturday, Park also warned that the North's recent charm offensive might be a prelude to new provocations and ordered an "airtight" defense posture against the provocative regime.

"North Korea has called for improvement in South-North relations, but it is difficult to feel any sincerity," Park was quoted as saying during Monday's summit. "What is more important than anything else is for North Korea's leadership to make the strategic decision to give up its nuclear program."

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