S. Korea, U.S. and Japan to hold post-Kim talks

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S. Korea, U.S. and Japan to hold post-Kim talks

South Korea, the United States and Japan will hold high-level tripartite talks in Washington next week for consultations on North Korea following the death of Kim Jong-il, a senior official said yesterday.

The trilateral talks, set for Tuesday, will be led by Lim Sung-nam, South Korea’s chief nuclear envoy, his Japanese counterpart Shinsuke Sugiyama and Kurt Campbell, Washington’s top diplomat on Asia, an official at Seoul’s foreign ministry said.

“The trilateral talks are aimed at sharing views on the situation on the Korean Peninsula after the passing of Kim Jong-il, and consulting on ways forward regarding the six-party talks,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

Yesterday, Lim and Sugiyama held talks in Seoul to discuss the North Korean nuclear issue.

In his opening remarks, Lim said, “There are a lot of things to talk about regarding our joint approach to the North Korean nuclear issue and the situation in North Korea.”

Since the death of Kim Jong-il, his youngest son and chosen heir, Kim Jong-un, has taken the helm of North Korea, with a seemingly smooth transfer of power to date.

However, it remains unclear whether the new leadership is willing to hold talks with the outside world.

The six-party talks, which involve North Korea, South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the United States, have been dormant since late 2008, but efforts to get North Korea back to the negotiating table gained some momentum last year.

On Wednesday, North Korea announced for the first time that the United States had offered to resume food aid if the North halts its uranium-enrichment program, but criticized them for “politicizing” food aid.

North Korea appeared to keep the door open for further talks with the United States on food aid, saying they will “wait and see” whether Washington has a willingness to build “trust.”

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