South Korea's Park seeks 5-party talks on North's nuclear program

South Korean President Park Geun-hye answers questions from reporters during her New Year news conference at the Presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, January 13, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korean President Park Geun-hye called on Friday for a meeting of five countries, excluding North Korea, to discuss the North’s nuclear program alongside long-stalled “six-party talks” that include Pyongyang.

Park’s comments came amid a flurry of diplomatic exchanges involving Washington and Beijing as the international community seeks to impose fresh sanctions on North Korea for its fourth nuclear test, on Jan. 6.

“In the past, six-party talks had usefulness as a framework to resolve North Korean nuclear issues via dialogue,” Park said in remarks at the presidential Blue House.

“But even if the talks open but don’t help denuclearize North Korea, the question of being effective will be brought up,” she said.

China, Pyongyang’s main ally, has been calling for a resumption of so-called six-party talks among the two Koreas, China, the United States, Japan and Russia aimed at curbing North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

Numerous efforts to restart the six-party talks have failed since negotiations collapsed following the last round in 2008.

“Relevant parties, although it is not an easy matter, should find out various and creative approaches such as trying five-party talks excluding North Korea,” Park said.

Park also said China’s role was essential in adopting strong sanctions at the United Nations Security Council, repeating her calls for Beijing to act.

“I expect China to take an effective measure that can make North Korea realize development of nuclear weapons is futile and come into the international community like Iran,” she said.

Reporting by Ju-min Park; Editing by Tony Munroe and Paul Tait