Japan will lift its freeze on participation in an international consortium providing nuclear reactors to North Korea as early as next week, government sources said Friday.Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi instructed Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura and Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiromu Nonaka to forge a consensus within the Liberal Democratic Party and opposition camp for lifting the freeze, the sources said.Japan canceled its signing of a cost-sharing agreement with other board members of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) — South Korea, the Unites States and the European Union — originally scheduled for Aug. 31 in New York. The move was in protest of North Korea’s firing of a rocket over northeastern Japan earlier that day.Japan said it was a ballistic missile that crossed its territory and landed in the Pacific Ocean, while North Korea claimed it was a rocket to launch a satellite.Tokyo eventually decided to lift the freeze upon the urging of the U.S. and South Korea, which became concerned that Pyongyang may resume its suspected nuclear weapons development if the KEDO framework collapses.

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