Korea, U.S. and Japan holding three-way meet

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Korea, U.S. and Japan holding three-way meet

The foreign ministers of South Korea, the U.S. and Japan will hold a tripartite meeting in Washington Monday to show a united front against North Korea.

“We will maintain our basic diplomatic approach toward North Korea in dealing with its denuclearization, curbing North Korea’s provocations and leading North Korea in a better direction,” said Kim Young-sun, spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, during a regular media briefing.

But the tripartite meeting, he said, “will try to send out a firmer and clearer message” to North Korea. “It will be a satisfying outcome if [the foreign ministers] can reach a specific agreement.”

The Washington meeting of Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan and his counterparts in the U.S. and Japan, Hilary Clinton and Seiji Maehara, was arranged as the countries were looking for effective ways to respond to the North Korea’s recent provocations, including the deadly shelling of Yeonpyeong Island late last month and the revelation of a new uranium enrichment facility in the North.

A day before the ministers’ meeting, working-level officials from the three countries gathered in Washington. Wi Sung-lack, South Korea’s top nuclear envoy, met Kurt Campbell, U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, and Akitaka Saiki, director general of the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau.

The gathering was held to fine-tune the agenda to be discussed at the ministers’ meeting, Kim said.

The ministers’ meeting has drawn attention because it is being held after the three countries had negative reactions to a suggestion by China for a meeting of the delegations of the six-party talks on North Korea’s denuclearization. The six-party talks, suspended in April 2009 with the North’s withdrawal, also include Russia.

The Washington Post, citing an unidentified U.S. official, reported that the U.S. is creating an anti-China bloc in Northeast Asia and adjusting its relations with South Korea and Japan.

Seoul stressed that the ministers’ meeting is not meant to pursue separate three-party talks, excluding China and Russia.

Meanwhile, Chinese President Hu Jintao had a telephone conversation with U.S. President Barack Obama yesterday and reiterated China’s call for a “cool and rational” response to the crisis on the Korean Peninsula, according to China’s Foreign Ministry.

By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]
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