North Korea has “not even come close” to initiating talks by taking the steps needed to rein in its nuclear weapons programme, US Secretary of State John Kerry has said.

Speaking in the South Korean capital, Seoul, on Monday, Kerry blamed North Korea for continuing to break promises, make threats and “show flagrant disregard for international law” by continuing provocative nuclear and missile activity while oppressing its own people.

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He said North Korea’s “horrific conduct” must be exposed and vowed to ratchet up pressure on Pyongyang to change its behaviour, particularly since it has rebuffed repeated attempts to restart nuclear talks.

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The US secretary of state said that Washington continued to offer the isolated North the chance for an improved relationship in return for signs of a genuine willingness to end its nuclear programme.

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“To date, to this moment, particularly with recent provocations, it is clear the DPRK is not even close to meeting that standard,” Kerry said during a joint news conference with Yun Byung-se, South Korean foreign minister.