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Seoul busy with diplomatic arrangements

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Jan 02,2003
The National Assembly, as part of the attempt to resolve the issue of North Korea's nuclear program, said Thursday it would dispatch special delegations to visit the United States, Japan, China, Russia and Austria, where the International Atomic Energy Agency is headquartered. The groups will leave Jan. 13. Lee Gyu-taek of the opposition Grand National Party and Jung Gyu-hwan, the floor leader of the ruling Millennium Democratic Party, said each delegation would be comprised of four state officials and one outside expert. The list of delegates and exact schedules will be finalized at the Assembly meeting next Thursday. Separately, Representative Park Jin of the Grand National Party is planning to take off to the United States on Saturday to join other South Korean lawmakers already in Washington for a series of discussions with experts in the U.S. administration and at several think tanks. "We decided to dispatch our lawmakers in order to ease people's concerns over North Korea's nukes and enhance our diplomatic efforts," Jung said. "We decided it is better to launch a bipartisan effort since nuclear development is too serious a matter to let parties act on their own." Meanwhile, the government proceeded with special negotiations with four major powers in the region: China, Russia, the United States and Japan. South Korean Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Lee Tae-sik, who met with Chinese Vice Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi in Beijing the same day, called for China to actively persuade North Korea not to aggravate the situation any futher. Lee called to lend a hand in making the North see the reasons for giving up its nuclear programs. "The two sides will focus on alternatives for the North's future likely response after reviewing the circumstances of the North Korean nuclear program," a state official in Seoul said. Seoul will also be sending its Vice Foreign Minister Kim Hang-kyung to Russia on Sunday to discuss similar concerns. Kim will meet Russian Vice Foreign Ministers Alexander Losyukov and Georgy Mamedov and ask for their help in persuading Pyeongyang to scrap its nuclear weapons development, officials said. The Trilateral Coordination Oversight Group meeting with Tokyo and Washington is set for early next week. The meeting could seriously consider halting light water reactor construction altogether if no positive change is detected from the communist regime by then. After the Trilateral meeting U.S. Assistant Secretary James Kelly will be visiting Seoul to meet with President-elect Roh Moo-hyun to further coordinate North Korea issues. Japan too is planning to dispatch Foreign Minster Yoriko Kawaguchi sometime around mid-January for talks with her South Korean counterpart Choi Sung-hong. Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi will make a state visit, Seoul officials said, arriving in Seoul in February after President-elect Roh is takes office.
by staff reporter
January 02, 2003




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