Tokyo, Seoul vow to maintain a wary eye on North Korea

Kyodo

Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi and her South Korean counterpart, Ban Ki Moon, agreed Friday that North Korea is unlikely to test-fire a missile in the immediate future, but Tokyo and Seoul need to remain on alert, a Japanese official said.

Kawaguchi and Ban also agreed that the two countries will cooperate on achieving an early resumption of the six-party talks aimed at resolving the standoff over North Korea’s nuclear arms program, the official said.

At the meeting on the sidelines of the annual U.N. General Assembly session in New York, Ban said analysis by South Korea currently indicates that the possibility of a North Korean missile launch test is not high, according to the official.

Japan also thinks it is unlikely that North Korea will conduct a missile launch test immediately, Kawaguchi was quoted as saying.

Ban, however, voiced concern that if North Korea test-fires a ballistic missile, it would deal a serious blow to cooperation between North and South Korea, the process of the six-party talks and relations between Japan and North Korea, the official said.

Kawaguchi said continued vigilance is necessary and that Japan will keep in close contact with South Korea on North Korean missile moves, according to the official.

Government sources in Tokyo said Thursday that North Korea may be preparing to test-fire either a Nodong or a Taepodong ballistic missile, or conduct a missile engine combustion test.