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alliances with the R.O.K and Japan provide deterrence and defense against the threat posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s(D.P.R.K.) continued pursuitof nuclear weapons and ballistic missile technology. We will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our allies in the face of this growing North Korean threat. Mr. Chairman, over the years we have seen a pattern of North Korean provocations followed by “charm offensives” aimed at extracting payoffs and concessions from the West. Despite the D.P.R.K.’s recent overtures at engagement, we have yet to see credible indications that North Korea is prepared to come into compliance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, or even negotiate on the key issue: denuclearization. The United States remains committed to authentic and credible negotiations to implement the September 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks and to bring North Korea into compliance with its international obligations through irreversible steps leading to denuclearization. We will not accept North Korea as a nuclear-armed state. We will not reward the D.P.R.K. merely for returning to dialogue. As the President has said, the D.P.R.K. can achieve the security, respect, and prosperity it claims to seek by choosing the path of denuclearization. For our part, the United States pledges to continue working toward a world in which the people of North and South Korea are peacefully reunited, and the Korean Peninsula is democratic, prosperous, and free of nuclear weapons. In addition to our concern about the security situation on the Korean Peninsula, the United States remains gravely concerned about the human rights situation in the D.P.R.K. The UN Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry released its report last month, documenting the deplorable human rights situation in the D.P.R.K. We are working tirelessly to persuade the D.P.R.K. Government to release Kenneth Bae, the U.S. citizen who has been held in North Korea for more than a year. We welcome the recent release of an Australian citizen, but continue to urge the D.P.R.K. Government to release the R.O.K. citizen still under detention, just as we seek resolution of the cases of the many R.O.K., Japanese, and other citizens abducted and held by North Korea over the decades. Challenges: Regional Tensions Mr. Chairman, the United States takes a clear position with regard to behavior of states in connection with their territorial or maritime disputes: we firmly oppose intimidation, coercion and the use of force. In the East China Sea, we are concerned by an unprecedented increase in risky activity by China’s maritime agencies near the Senkaku Islands. The United States returned administration of the Senkakus to Japan in 1972, and they fall within the scope of the U.S.-Japan mutual defense treaty, in particular its Article V. Tensions over the Senkakus have led to a sharp downturn in Sino-Japanese relations. China and Japan are the world’s second- and third-largest economies and have a shared interest in a stable environment to facilitate