NEW YORK, Sept. 29 (UPI) -- South Korean President Park Geun-hye told the United Nations General Assembly that resolving the North Korean nuclear issue should be given the "highest priority."
"Resolving the North Korean nuclear issue should be accorded the highest priority if we are to uphold the integrity of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime, and live up to the aspirations of humanity for a world without nuclear weapons," Park said in her speech before the U.N. on Monday.
In her 23-minute speech, Park used the word "peace" 30 times when addressing the North Korea issue and global conflicts, but North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong was not in attendance, The Korea Herald reported.
Park said resolving the North Korean nuclear issue is the "last remaining non-proliferation challenge" and that Pyongyang would "do well to choose reform...rather than additional provocations and endeavor to free its people from hardship."
The South Korean president said Seoul would work with UN member states to actively support North Korea's path toward "openness and cooperation," but did not provide a definitive method toward resolving the impasse with Pyongyang, South Korean newspaper Hankyoreh reported.
On Monday, North Korea reaffirmed its intention to launch a long-range rocket and defended its "sovereign right" to conduct scientific research, as well as to manufacture and launch space satellites.
Seoul and Washington oppose the rocket launches, which are believed to be part of North Korea's plan to test ballistic missile technology. More sanctions could follow if Pyongyang launches satellites around the time of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Workers' Party on Oct. 10.
North Korea said on Monday scientists and engineers were accelerating their projects on observation satellites ahead of the anniversary.
Park also said in her speech the international community should work to address the North Korea human rights issue – a topic that has often drawn North Korea invectives.
"We once again call on [North Korea] to heed the concerns of the international community and start improving the state of human rights," Park said.