Koizumi, Jiang agree to prod Pyongyang

Kyodo

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Chinese President Jiang Zemin agreed Sunday to cooperate in pressing North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program for the sake of regional peace and stability.

“Japan and China agreed to further promote bilateral cooperation for stability in the region,” Koizumi said at a news conference after meeting with Jiang.

In their talks shortly after the annual summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, Jiang also urged Koizumi not to visit Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine, saying it is hurtful to the Chinese people, a Japanese official said.

Koizumi told Jiang that Japan hopes China, North Korea’s most influential ally, will support talks to be resumed by Tokyo and Pyongyang to establish bilateral ties, according to the official.

Koizumi vowed to raise at the normalization talks not only the abduction of Japanese by North Korean agents but also Pyongyang’s recent admission that it has a nuclear weapons program, the official said.

Japan will urge North Korea to honor its commitments to all nuclear-related international agreements, as stipulated in a joint declaration adopted at the bilateral summit in Pyongyang in September, Koizumi was quoted as saying.

Koizumi and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il agreed during their historic Sept. 17 summit in Pyongyang to resume normalization talks. The two countries will hold the talks Tuesday and Wednesday in Kuala Lumpur.

Jiang told Koizumi that China firmly supports a nuclear weapons-free Korean Peninsula and said a peaceful resolution of the Pyongyang atomic arms issue is necessary.

Jiang also said China wants the United States to maintain a 1994 antinuclear pact with North Korea.

Before flying to Mexico, Jiang met U.S. President George W. Bush on Friday at his Texas ranch, where the two leaders pledged to seek a Korean Peninsula free of nuclear arms.

In talks with a U.S. envoy earlier this month in Pyongyang, North Korea admitted having a program to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons and said it is no longer bound by the 1994 accord.

The pact, the Agreed Framework, requires Pyongyang to freeze and dismantle its graphite-moderated nuclear reactors in exchange for two light-water nuclear reactors — which the North complains it never received — and a supply of heavy oil for heating and electricity production.

On Yasukuni, Koizumi told Jiang he visited the Tokyo shrine dedicated to Japan’s war dead with the resolve that Japan should never again wage war.

China sees the shrine, which also honors war criminals who were hanged after the war, as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism. Koizumi last visited the shrine in April.

Koizumi was quoted as saying that based on the lessons of history, Japan wants to develop new relations with China, and this year’s 30th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic ties provides a good opportunity to do so.