President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Donald Trump agreed to continue strong pressure and sanctions against North Korea to bring the regime back to negotiations as they held their second phone talks in two days after Pyongyang's latest long-range missile test, Cheong Wa Dae said.
"The two leaders agreed on the need to maintain their basic stance of putting strong sanctions and pressure on the North until North Korea voluntarily gives up developing nukes and missiles and comes out for dialogue," Cheong Wa Dae said.
The hour-long telephone conversation held late Thursday (Seoul time) came one day after the North launched an apparent intercontinental ballistic missile in its first provocation in two and a half months. The call marked the second of its kind in two days.
Pyongyang on Wednesday claimed success in its latest missile test, also declaring completion of building the "state nuclear force."
Moon said it was not clear whether the communist nation has in fact built nuclear weapons, let alone perfected its missile technology.
"The missile launched yesterday certainly was the most advanced one so far in all aspects, but the reentry technology has not yet been proven, and it is also uncertain whether the North has secured the technology to miniaturize nuclear warheads," he told the U.S. president, according to Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Park Soo-hyun.
"The task we face is to completely prevent North Korea from further advancing its nuclear and missile technologies, and eventually to have them dismantled," Moon added.
To this end, the two leaders said they will seek to intensify international sanctions and pressure against the North to the maximum level.
"President Trump praised our government's such efforts, and underscored the need to deter provocations and counter threats from North Korea with overwhelming power based on the strong joint defense posture of South Korea and the United States," Park said in a press release.
The U.S. leader also reaffirmed his support for enhancing South Korea's own defense capabilities.
"Also, President Trump expressed full support for South Korea's efforts to enhance its defense capabilities through acquisition or development of advanced military assets, and reaffirmed the United States' firm commitment to the defense of South Korea," the Cheong Wa Dae spokesman said.
The White House released a similar summary of the call, saying the leaders discussed their next steps in responding to the missile test, including "how to bring maximum pressure to bear on the regime."
"The presidents reiterated their strong commitment to enhancing the alliance's deterrence and defense capabilities," it said in a statement. "Both leaders reaffirmed their strong commitment to compelling North Korea to return to the path of denuclearization at any cost."
Trump also promised to send a high-level delegation to the Winter Olympics to be hosted by South Korea's PyeongChang in February.