Direct comments on North Korea

In his first direct comments on North Korea since becoming the U.S. secretary of state, John Kerry warned Thursday that North Korea’s provocations increase the potential for conflict.

Addressing college students at the department, Kerry cited the "imminence, perhaps" of another nuclear test and more rocket launches.

"To what end? All that will happen is greater potential of conflict," he said.

Kerry, known for his long experience on foreign affairs as a senator, pointed out the North Korean leadership is pursuing a confrontational path while its people are starving.

"They desperately need to become more open and connected to the world instead of harboring some of the worst gulags in the world where people are tortured, and forced labor," he said.

Kerry is known for having advocated the need for engaging North Korea.

In an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times in June 2011, he called for direct dialogue with North Korea to end its hostility.

"The best alternative is for the United States to engage North Korea directly," he said.

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