Alexa

SKorea leader says he's ready to meet NKorea's Kim

 South Korean Army tanks move during an exercise against possible North Korea's attack near the demilitarized zone in Yanggu, South Korea, Wednesday, ...
 In this undated photo released by Korean Central News Agency via Korea News Service in Tokyo Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il...

South Korea Koreas Tension

South Korean Army tanks move during an exercise against possible North Korea's attack near the demilitarized zone in Yanggu, South Korea, Wednesday, ...

North Korea

In this undated photo released by Korean Central News Agency via Korea News Service in Tokyo Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il...

South Korea's president says he is willing to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Il this year to discuss the North's nuclear weapons program despite a recent flare-up in border tensions.
President Lee Myung-bak made the comment as North Korea fired artillery shells for a third day Friday in what it said were military exercises near its disputed western sea border with South Korea.
The shellings, which on Wednesday prompted return artillery fire by the South, caused no reported casualties or damage. They came amid mixed signs from the communist North, which has recently appeared more eager to engage the South in dialogue after ballistic missile and nuclear tests last year drew U.N. sanctions, while still threatening its rival.
The presidential office said Saturday that it is unclear whether summit talks can be held soon, but that Lee said he "could probably meet (Kim) within this year" if it promotes peace on the Korean peninsula and North Korea's nuclear disarmament.
Lee's two liberal predecessors held talks with Kim Jong Il in 2000 and 2007. Lee has taken a tougher approach toward North Korea since taking office in 2008, worsening bilateral relations, but has indicated several times he is willing to meet Kim.
His comments came as North Korea fired about 20 artillery rounds into its western waters, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said. The North has designated two no-sail zones in the area, including some South Korean-held waters, through March 29.
The western sea border has been a constant source of tension between the two Koreas. Their navies fought a skirmish in November that left one North Korean sailor dead and three others wounded, and engaged in bloodier battles in the area in 1999 and 2002.
In Washington, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg said in a speech Friday that the United States and its negotiating partners will enforce tough sanctions on North Korea until it returns to stalled nuclear disarmament talks.
If North Korea continues to conduct nuclear and missile tests and threaten its neighbors, "it will continue to suffer the consequences," Steinberg said.
North Korea has bargained with its neighbors and the United States for more than a decade about giving up its nuclear program, gaining energy and aid concessions and then backing away from its agreements.
North Korea argues that it was compelled to develop nuclear weapons to cope with a military threat from the U.S., which has about 28,500 troops in South Korea.
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Associated Press Writer Foster Klug in Washington contributed to this report.