Japan backs South on North talks

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Japan backs South on North talks

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South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan, left, greets visiting Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara in Seoul on Saturday. [AP/YONHAP]


Japan believes talks between North and South Korea should come before any dialogue between Tokyo and Pyongyang, according to Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara, who was in Seoul on Saturday to meet several high-ranking South Korean officials.

“With the Yeonpyeong Island [attack] in mind, I think that South-North talks should be held first when it comes to talks with North Korea,” said Maehara during a joint press conference after his meeting with South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Kim Sung-hwan. “As Japan, South Korea and the U.S. work closely with one another, each country can speak with North Korea. [In the case of talks with Japan and North Korea] it is important that North Korea show a changed and sincere response regarding kidnapping issues and nuclear missiles.

“South Korea and Japan have a common understanding that South-North talks should be held first and this was confirmed in today’s talks,” the minister said. “Both parties exchanged deep opinions on the North Korean nuclear issues, as well as recent North Korean affairs and inter-Korean relations.”

The South Korean foreign minister also referred to the offer that Seoul made to Pyongyang for talks regarding last year’s attacks and the denuclearization of the North. “We are still waiting for the response,” said Kim.

Maehara also met with President Lee Myung-bak on Saturday, and the two agreed that the North’s enriching of uranium should be referred to the U.N. Security Council, said Lee’s spokeswoman, Kim Hee-jung.

The Japanese foreign minister called for North Korea to take a “sure and responsible posture” for the Cheonan sinking (which Pyongyang denies being behind) and the Yeonpyeong Island shelling, said spokeswoman Kim.

Maehara spent an additional 40 minutes with Minister of National Unification Hyun In-taek in a private meeting to discuss North Korean issues, a ministry official said.

The Japanese minister’s visit, his first after taking office last September, came a day later than scheduled, due to a cabinet reshuffle in Japan the day before.

Meanwhile, Pyongyang announced new ways to boost its moribund economy. According to the North’s official news agency on Saturday, Pyongyang will establish a State General Bureau for Economic Development. Pyongyang vowed that with this plan, it would “proudly stand side-by-side with other developed countries by 2020” but did not give further details on the plan.

By Christine Kim [christine.kim@joongang.co.kr]


Related Korean Article [연합]

한·일 외교 "북일대화 앞서 남북대화"
마에하라 '6자회담 움직임 보며 적절한 상황서 추진'

한.일 "국제사회, 北 우라늄 농축에 단호히 대응해야" 김성환 외교통상부 장관과 마에하라 세이지(前原誠司) 일본 외무상은 15일 북일대화 추진에 앞서 남북대화가 선행돼야 한다는 공통의 입장을 확인했다.

양국 외교장관은 이날 서울 도렴동 외교통상부 청사에서 회담을 가진 직후 공동 기자회견에서 이같이 밝혔다.

김성환 장관은 "한일 양국간에는 일단 남북대화가 선행돼야 한다는데 공통의 인식을 갖고 있고 오늘 회담에서도 이를 확인했다"며 "이 같은 양국간 공통이해를 바탕으로 (북.일대화가) 진행될 것으로 기대를 하고 있다"고 말했다.

마에하라 외무상은 "연평도 포격사건 등을 감안해 북한과의 대화에 앞서 먼저 남북대화가 이뤄져야 한다고 생각한다"며 "한.미.일 세나라가 긴밀하게 공조하면서 북한과의 대화를 추진하는 게 중요하다고 생각한다"고 밝혔다.

마에하라 외무상은 그러나 "북일대화가 6자회담 개최에만 한정된 것은 아니라고 생각한다"며 "북일대화는 6자회담의 움직임을 감안하면서 적절한 상황하에서 이뤄져야 한다고 보고 있다"고 말했다.

마에하라 외무상의 이 같은 발언은 장기간 해결되지 않고 있는 납치.미사일 문제 등을 다루기 위해 북일 대화를 적극 추진해나가되, 구체적인 추진시점은 한국 정부 등과 협의를 거치겠다는 의미로 풀이된다. …

http://news.joins.com/article/582/4930582.html?ctg=

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