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Obama vows defense of S. Korea in call with Lee

Activists from an anti-North Korea civic group protest against a North Korean nuclear test in Seoul on February 12, 2013
Activists from an anti-North Korea civic group shout slogans during a protest against North Korean nuclear test in Seoul on February 12, 2013. US President Barack Obama on Tuesday vowed a steadfast defense of South Korea in a telephone call with outgoing

US President Barack Obama on Tuesday vowed a steadfast defense of South Korea in a telephone call with outgoing President Lee Myung-Bak after North Korea conducted an underground nuclear test.

"The two leaders condemned this highly provocative violation of North Korea's international obligations. They agreed to work closely together, including at the United Nations Security Council," a White House statement said.

The leaders, who have become friends over the past four years, pledged to pursue international measures to impede Pyongyang's nuclear and ballistic missile programs and reduce the risk of proliferation.

"President Obama unequivocally reaffirmed that the United States remains steadfast in its defense commitments to the Republic of Korea, including the extended deterrence offered by the US nuclear umbrella," the statement said.

"The president also thanked President Lee for his leadership and friendship over the past four years and pledged to work closely with President-elect Park to further strengthen US-ROK cooperation."

Park Geun-Hye, who takes office in Seoul on February 25, campaigned on a platform of greater engagement with Pyongyang.

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