Kawaguchi urges peaceful approach

Japan hopes the United States will not resort to force in dealing with efforts by North Korea to develop a nuclear weapons program, Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi said Friday.

“The United States has said it will resolve the issue peacefully,” Kawaguchi said. “This is an issue that the international community shares, and our country will take up the issue. But we also hope the United States will deal with the matter peacefully.”

The U.S. State Department said Wednesday that North Korea had informed the U.S. earlier this month that it has a secret program to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons and is no longer bound by a 1994 accord designed to stop activities of this kind.

James Kelly, assistant secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific affairs, was told about the program during his visit to North Korea between Oct. 3 and Oct. 5.

Kelly will arrive in Japan on Sunday for a two-day visit.

Asked whether she plans to meet Kelly, Kawaguchi said a meeting is still being coordinated.

Kawaguchi said Japan will brief Kelly on its planned resumption of normalization talks with North Korea, scheduled to take place on Oct. 29 in Kuala Lumpur.

Japan will also explain that in addition to security matters, the issue of Japanese abducted by North Korea will top the talks agenda, she said.

Meanwhile, Richard Armitage, U.S. deputy secretary of state, said the United States hopes Japan will address the issue of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program during the normalization talks.

“It seems to me that Prime Minister (Junichiro) Koizumi and his colleagues have been very attentive to security needs and security concerns that the United States, the Republic of (South) Korea and Japan all have,” Armitage told reporters.

“So I know that Japan will (go) forward if they decide to do so, keeping those concerns foremost in their mind.”

Japan and North Korea agreed to resume normalization talks during a landmark summit meeting in Pyongyang on Sept. 17. between Koizumi and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. The talks were suspended in October 2000 due to differences over the abduction issue and North Korea’s demand for compensation over Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.