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S. Korea, France vow to take necessary steps over N. Korea

South Korean President Park Geun-hye and her French counterpart, Francois Hollande, pledged Friday to take additional steps against North Korea, if necessary, in the latest move to get Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear program.

"I would like to continue cooperation with France in the future,” Park said in a news conference with Hollande after their summit, citing France's leading role in adopting U.N. sanctions on North Korea.

Hollande said France will make all efforts to deter North Korea’s provocations as one of the five permanent veto-wielding members of the U.N. Security Council.

"We will always support South Korea and stand with it,” he said in a news conference, noting North Korea’s provocative acts pose a threat to the international community.

North Korea is under the toughest U.N. sanctions ever over its fourth nuclear test and its long-range rocket launch earlier this year.

Still, North Korea has repeatedly rejected calls to give up its nuclear program, which it views as a powerful deterrent against what it claims is Washington's hostile policy towards it.

South Korea and France said they will thoroughly enforce the U.N. sanctions and “take additional steps, if necessary, to make sure that North Korea abandons its nuclear program and takes a path toward true change,” according to a joint statement issued after the summit.

The two sides also urged North Korea to improve its dismal human rights situation.

Last year, the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution for the second consecutive year that calls for referring the North to the International Criminal Court for human rights violations.

North Korea has long been accused of grave human rights abuses, ranging from holding political prisoners in concentration camps to committing torture and carrying out public executions.

Still, North Korea has bristled at outside criticism, calling it a U.S.-led attempt to topple its regime.

The two leaders also said in the statement that the two sides will work together to tackle terrorism and nuclear proliferation while facilitating military dialogue and continuing to cooperate in the defense and security arenas.

Park said in a news conference that she and Hollande agreed to strengthen cooperation in combating climate change and on issues related to the international financial system on the occasion of South Korea's planned membership in the so-called Paris Club.

The Paris Club is an association of creditor countries with the major aim of finding sustainable solutions to payment difficulties faced by debtor countries.

“Our two countries will strengthen strategic dialogue in all areas,” Park said in the joint statement. “The bilateral relations are at their highest level.”

The summit came as Seoul and Paris commemorate the 130th anniversary of establishing diplomatic ties.

Separately, Park laid a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier at the Arc de Triomphe before her motorcade headed down the Avenue des Champs-?lys?es towards ?lys?e Palace with a 146-horse-strong mounted escort from the French -- all the trappings of a state visit.

After the summit, Park and Hollande watched as their representatives signed several memorandums of understanding (MOUs) between the two nations.

The MOUs call for, among other things, expanding technological cooperation in such areas as autonomous vehicles, charging stations for electric cars and renewable energy.

France is seeking to expand the percentage of renewable energy to 32 percent of its total energy consumption by 2030 from 14 percent in 2013.

Separately, South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co. signed a cooperation deal with French Air Liquide S.A. for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and the expansion of their charging stations.

A fuel cell car emits only water vapor, as it converts stored hydrogen into electricity, which turns the vehicle's motor. The technological advance could eventually reduce heavy reliance on internal combustion engines that produce greenhouse gases, largely responsible for global warming.

Separately, Park met with French Parliament Speaker Claude Bartolone before attending a state banquet. (Yonhap)



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