Kerry warns North Korea against missile launch

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and South Korea's Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se shake hands during a photo opportunity shortly before private meetings at the Foreign Ministery in Seoul April 12, 2013. REUTERS/ Paul J. Richards/Pool

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and South Korea's Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se shake hands during a photo opportunity shortly before private meetings at the Foreign Ministery in Seoul April 12, 2013. REUTERS/ Paul J. Richards/Pool

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By Arshad Mohammed and Jack Kim (Reuters) | Fri Apr 12, 2013 9:24am EDT

SEOUL - Secretary of State John Kerry warned North Korea on Friday it would be a "huge mistake" to launch a medium-range missile and said the United States would never accept the reclusive country as a nuclear power.

Addressing reporters after talks with South Korea's president and leaders of the 28,000-strong U.S. military contingent in the country, Kerry also said it was up to China, North Korea's sole major ally, to "put some teeth" in efforts to press Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

Kerry, like other U.S. officials, played down an assessment from the Pentagon's intelligence agency that the North already had a nuclear missile capacity.

The United States, he said, wanted to resume talks about North Korea's earlier pledges to halt its nuclear program, but would defend its allies in the region if necessary.

(Additional reporting by Ju-min Park in SEOUL, Sui-Lee Wee in BEIJING, John Ruwitch in SHANGHAI, and Patricia Zengerle, Mark Hosenball and Jeff Mason in WASHINGTON; Writing by Ronald Popeski; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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