Six-party envoy urges cooperation from Japan

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Six-party envoy urges cooperation from Japan

Hwang Joon-kook, Korea’s top envoy to the six-party talks, sent a message warning Japan to refrain from any unilateral actions that could endanger international cooperation in the denuclearization of North Korea.

Hwang, Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs, told reporters after a meeting with Japanese counterpart Junichi Ihara, director-general of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, that Korea “supports the Japanese government’s efforts to resolve its abduction issue on a humanitarian level.”

However, he said that he conveyed to Ihara “the position that Japanese efforts [to resolve the abduction issue] should not have a negative effect on trilateral cooperation among South Korea, the United States and Japan on North Korean nuclear and missile problems.”

He referred to Japan’s move on July 4 to remove some unilateral sanctions on North Korea after Pyongyang set up a committee to reinvestigate the whereabouts of Japanese nationals kidnapped by the Communist state’s agents in the 1970s and 1980s.

Hwang was on a three-day visit to Japan from Tuesday to discuss North Korea’s nuclear and missile program. He was also briefed on Wednesday by Ihara on the details of the negotiations between Tokyo and on the abduction committee. Since he was appointed as top nuclear envoy, Hwang has been shuttling back and forth between the United States, China and Russia to talk with other chief envoys of the six-party nations.

Hwang and Ihara expressed deep concern about Pyongyang’s recent launches of ballistic missiles, and said that they, along with the international community, had to have “a strong response” to such provocations by Pyongyang.

Tokyo’s efforts to track its missing citizens through a series of negotiations with Pyongyang in recent months come amid continued threats by North Korea, including the firing of short-range missiles.

Washington also warned Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe against visiting North Korea, Japanese media reported.

Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly warned Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in a telephone conversation earlier this month that such a trip could disturb trilateral coordination between Tokyo, Washington and Seoul.

However, the U.S. State Department declined to confirm the report.

The UN Security Council is scheduled to discuss multiple launches of short-range ballistic missiles by North Korea during a closed-door session Thursday in New York, a Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said yesterday.

This is the second time the 15-member Security Council met on the issue since a meeting on March 27, when they condemned Pyongyang’s launches of medium-range Rodong ballistic missiles.

The official pointed out that while the missiles are short-range, in light of the sheer number of launches and continued provocations from North Korea, “our position is that we need to come down with a stronger response than before, especially as a member state of the Security Council.”

On Wednesday, members of the United Nations Human Rights Committee reviewed Japan’s implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and critiqued Japan’s refusal to acknowledge the “forced recruitment of sexual slavery” and its denial that “comfort women” were coerced into slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II, the foreign affairs official added.

BY SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]




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