North Korea will only be invited to the next nuclear security summit in 2012 if it returns to the negotiating table and abandons its nuclear program, the South Korean president said on Tuesday.
"I hope that in the next two years North Korea will return to six-party talks and achieve significant progress [in disarmament]," Lee Myung-Bak said at a news conference in Washington during the second day of a 47-nation summit on nuclear security.
In his opening speech at a plenary session, U.S. President Barack Obama said the next nuclear security summit will take place in South Korea in 2012.
North Korea became an atomic power in 2006 after it conducted an underground nuclear weapons test. Subsequent economic UN sanctions led to severe food shortages in the country. Concerns over the stability of the reclusive regime have deepened since reports of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il's ailing health in 2008.
During the Washington summit, world leaders are expected to make concrete commitments to ensure that their national stocks of separated plutonium and enriched uranium are not stolen, smuggled or sold to terrorists.
Pyongyang recently threatened to boost its nuclear capability in response to what it considered "continuing U.S. military threats and provocations," referring to joint annual exercises conducted by the U.S. and South Korean military near its borders.
WASHINGTON, April 13 (RIA Novosti)