SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Celebrating America's Veterans Day, President Barack Obama on Thursday saluted the bravery of U.S. troops who defended South Korea during its war with North Korea and condemned the communist north for continuing on a course that he says deepens its isolation from the rest of the world along with the poverty of its people.
Speaking at an Army garrison in a country where the U.S. keeps a presence of more than 28,000 troops, Obama said North Korea knows the path to prosperity and should take it.
"Because the Korean War ended where it began geographically, some used the phrase 'Die for a Tie' to describe the sacrifice of those who fought here," Obama said. "But as we look around at this thriving democracy and its grateful, hopeful citizens, one thing is clear: This was no tie. This was a victory.
"It was a victory then, and it is a victory today," the president said.
Obama said the Korean peninsula provides the world's clearest contrast between a society that is open and one that is closed, between a dynamic, growing nation like South Korea and a North Korea "that would rather starve its people"
"It's a contrast so stark you can see it from space, as the brilliant lights of Seoul give way to utter darkness in the north," he said, adding that it is a direct result of the path chosen by the reclusive, communist north.
Obama said the U.S. "will never waver" in its commitment to South Korea's security and that North Korea's continued pursuit of nuclear weapons will only lead to more isolation and less security. He urged Pyongyang to take another path, a road that he said will offer its people growing opportunity instead of crushing poverty.
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