Seoul seeks trilateral on North Korea

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Seoul seeks trilateral on North Korea

South Korea is seeking trilateral talks with the United States and Japan to coordinate their joint strategy on the North Korean nuclear standoff on the sidelines of the 18-nation East Asia Summit in Bali, Indonesia, next week, a Seoul official said yesterday.

North Korea and the United States concluded its bilateral meeting in Geneva last month aimed at restarting the stalled six-nation talks on ending the North’s nuclear weapons programs. Both sides reported some progress after the Geneva meeting, but no agreement was reached to resume the six-party talks.

“Since the Geneva dialogue, we have been seeking to hold trilateral talks with the United States and Japan to assess the current situation and coordinate opinions,” said an official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade on the condition of anonymity. “Senior officials in charge of the North Korean nuclear issue from the three nations are considering holding talks alongside the East Asia Summit late next week,” the official said.

The trilateral talks would be led by Lim Sung-nam, Seoul’s chief envoy to the six-party talks, his Japanese counterpart, Shinsuke Sugiyama, and Kurt Campbell, assistant U.S. secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, according to the official. Glyn Davies, the new U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, is also expected to visit South Korea, China and Japan early next month, the official said.

A flurry of diplomatic efforts has been under way since July to reopen the six-nation talks, involving the two Koreas, the United States, China, Russia and Japan. The talks have been dormant since April 2009, when the North walked out of negotiations and then conducted its second nuclear test a month later.

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