President Barack Obama will meet with South Korean President Park Geun-hye on May 7 at the White House as tensions run high in the Korean Peninsula.
“President Obama and President Park will also discuss a broad range of economic and security issues, including continued cooperation on denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and countering the North Korean threat,” the White House said in a statement released on Monday.
Park took charge as South Korea’s first female president on Feb. 25.
As the U.S. and South Korea observe the 60th anniversary of their alliance this year, both leaders will discuss the North Korean threat and efforts to denuclearize the Korean peninsula, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney noted, according to AP.
North Korea had rejected an offer from the South to hold talks on the future of the joint Kaesong Industrial Complex, on the eve of the 101st birth anniversary of North Korea’s founder on Monday.
Pyongyang called the offer to hold talks an “empty, meaningless” act aimed at disguising invasion plans, state media said, according to BBC.
North Korean laborers failed to report for work on April 9 at the Kaesong industrial complex, a few miles inside the border with North Korea, effectively shutting down the last major symbol of cooperation between the hostile neighbors.
The South Korean Unification Ministry, which oversees relations with the North, said it was “regrettable” that Pyongyang had rejected the offer to hold talks, made last week by Park, Reuters reports. It said the offer would remain on the table.
On Monday, demonstrators in Seoul set on fire effigies of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, his father and predecessor Kim Jong Il and grandfather Kim Il Sung.
Pyongyang responded with an “ultimatum” against the South, saying that a “retaliatory action will start without any notice from now as such thrice-cursed criminal act of hurting the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK [North Korea] is being openly committed in the heart of Seoul under the patronage of the puppet authorities.
“The DPRK's revolutionary armed forces will start immediately their just military actions to show how the service personnel and people of the DPRK value and protect the dignity of the supreme leadership,” the ultimatum carried by North’s official news agency KCNA said.