U.S. debriefs Japan on N. Korea talks

Kyodo

Senior Japanese and U.S. officials on Sunday discussed North Korea’s nuclear program after Washington’s first high-level contact with Pyongyang las week since the death of longtime leader Kim Jong Il.

Glyn Davies, U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, met with Japan’s top nuclear envoy Shinsuke Sugiyama in Tokyo to brief him about the talks Friday in Beijing and exchange views on prospects for resuming the six-party denuclearization talks.

Afterward, Sugiyama said Japan “welcomes the little bit of progress” made in the U.S.-North Korea talks and confirmed with Davies that Tokyo, Washington and Seoul will continue to work closely in dealing with Pyongyang.

Both Sugiyama and Davies declined to reveal the substance of the briefing, but Davies said the United States urged North Korea in Beijing to address the issue of Japanese citizens abducted by Pyongyang in the past and said he will raise the issue whenever he meets with officials from Pyongyang in the future.

Davies also suggested that multilateral talks on North Korean issues would not take place in the immediate future unless more progress is made between Washington and Pyongyang.

According to sources familiar with the two-day meeting, Davies told North Korea’s First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan that the U.S. is ready to increase the scale of the food assistance it offered to provide last year.

In mid-December, the U.S. told the North it is prepared to supply the starving country with 240,000 tons of nutritional aid, including biscuits and vitamin supplements for infants, in return for an immediate halt to Pyongyang’s uranium enrichment program.

But North Korea has called for an increase in the volume and provision of rice and other grains as much as possible.