March 1, 2016 / 3:32 AM / in 2 years

South Korea's Park says door not shut on dialogue with North

SEOUL (Reuters) - Seoul will not shut the door to dialogue with North Korea, South Korean President Park Geun-hye said on Tuesday, but warned that Pyongyang, facing new U.N. sanctions, would be subject to even greater pressure as long as it stuck to its nuclear program.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye delivers a speech during a ceremony to mark the anniversary of the 1919 independence movement against Japanese rule over the Korean peninsula, in Seoul March 1, 2016. REUTERS/Jung Yeon-Je/Pool

The U.N. Security Council is expected to vote soon on a resolution drafted by the United States and backed by China, the North’s main ally, aimed at punishing Pyongyang for its recent nuclear test and long-range rocket launch.

“The government will not shut the door on dialogue, but as long as the North doesn’t show the will to denuclearize and refuses to change, pressure from us and the international community will continue,” Park said.

The anticipated adoption of new tough sanctions by the Security Council shows there is broad international support to stop the North’s nuclear program, Park said.

Her comments came in a speech marking a movement in the 1900s to seek Korean independence from colonial ruler Japan.

Park did not make a proposal for fresh dialogue with the North, which last took place in August last year, when the two sides agreed to make efforts to improve ties.

In February, in a shift from her earlier focus on dialogue to engage the North, Park vowed tough action and suspended operations at a jointly run industrial park as punishment for the North’s recent moves.

The North conducted its fourth nuclear test in January and launched a long-range rocket in February, which the Security Council condemned as a violation of existing resolutions that ban the isolated state from using ballistic missile technology.

The proposed new resolution would require U.N. member states to inspect for illicit goods all cargo passing through their territory on its way to, or from, North Korea.

Earlier, countries only had to do this if they had reasonable grounds to believe there was illicit cargo.

Russia, a permanent member of the Security Council, has sought more time to review the text of the resolution.

Reporting by Jack Kim; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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