3 allies hope 6-party talks resume

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3 allies hope 6-party talks resume

South Korea, the U.S. and Japan said on Tuesday that the door for dialogue with North Korea is still open.

It is the first time the three allies united to send a message of engagement to the North, now run by young leader Kim Jong-un after the sudden death of his father Kim Jong-il last month.

Lim Sung-nam, Seoul’s Representative for Korea Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs, met his counterparts from the U.S. and Japan in Washington to coordinate their next steps following Kim’s death on Dec. 17.

The meeting lasted more than seven hours. It was also attended by Kurt Campbell, U.S. Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and Glyn Davies, U.S. Special Representative for North Korean Policy, as well as Shinsuke Sugiyama, director-general of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau at Japan’s Foreign Ministry.

The U.S. State Department said the meeting built upon previous trilateral meetings and that it was productive.

The three parties agreed that “a path is open to North Korea toward the resumption of talks and improved relations with the United States, Japan, and the Republic of Korea through dialogue,” said the department in a release.

The department said the representatives also reaffirmed their commitment to the Sept. 19, 2005 Joint Statement, in which the North pledged to denuclearize through the six-party talks.

The six-party talks, which hoped to put an end to the North’s clandestine nuclear program in return for security and economic aid, were suspended after the North stormed out of talks in April 2009, citing mounting international pressure. It involves the two Koreas as well as the U.S., China, Japan and Russia.

It is not known whether the three parties discussed how to resume the six-party talks at the meeting, but according to Seoul officials, there is no change in the trilateral stance of demanding the North to show its seriousness to join the talks. Seoul and Washington have indicated that suspending the North’s uranium enrichment program - unveiled in November 2010 and feared to help equip the country with the capability to produce nuclear weapons - will exhibit the North’s seriousness to return to multilateral talks on denuclearization.

The North was thought to be moving in that direction and to announce it at a third Pyongyang-Washington denuclearization talk last month before Kim’s death set it back. After Kim’s death, the North praised nuclear development as his biggest legacy for the country, a remark feared as a sign of regression in diplomacy.

“The three countries of Korea, the U.S. and Japan also agreed to have close cooperation with China and Russia in the future to better deal with various regional issues,” Lim told reporters after the meeting.

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