• Kyodo


The United States hinted Saturday that it will resume suspended bilateral talks with North Korea after completing a review of its policy toward Pyongyang, diplomatic sources said after a meeting of senior U.S., Japanese, and South Korean officials on North Korean issues in Hawaii.

At the one-day meeting of the Trilateral Coordination and Oversight Group on North Korea, the three allies reaffirmed the importance of continued close consultation and coordination of policy toward North Korea on a range of issues including missiles, weapons of mass destruction and humanitarian affairs, according to a joint statement.

The three delegations expressed the shared hope that North Korea would take steps to address the international community’s concerns, according to the statement issued after the meeting.

They also reaffirmed their commitment to continuing the 1994 nuclear agreement between Washington and Pyongyang and called on North Korea to join them in taking the needed steps for its successful implementation, the statement said.

In the meeting, the three delegations expressed their strong support for South Korea’s policy of reconciliation and cooperation with North Korea and South Korean President Kim Dae Jung’s leading role in resolving inter-Korean issues.

The Japanese and U.S. delegations expressed hope that a second summit meeting between the leaders of the two Koreas will contribute to the expansion of North-South cooperation and exchanges and lead to a substantial reduction of tensions on the Korean Peninsula, the statement said.

Japan furthermore expressed its continuing readiness to conduct normalization talks between Tokyo and Pyongyang, the statement said. The United States outlined its current review of its North Korea policy to Japan and South Korea in the meeting.

The delegations agreed to hold further talks within a few months without specifying a venue.

The trilateral talks, begun in April 1999, were last held March 26 in Seoul. Saturday’s meeting is the first since U.S. President George W. Bush took office in January.

Kunihiko Makita, director general of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau of the Foreign Ministry, headed the Japanese delegation for the meeting. James Kelly, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, represented the U.S., and Deputy Foreign Minister Yim Sung Joon led the South Korean side.

According to the diplomatic sources, the U.S. aims to implement on-site inspections of nuclear facilities in North Korea at an early date, based on the 1994 agreement over the suspension of nuclear development in North Korea.

South Korea asked the U.S. to complete its North Korea policy review and resume U.S.-North Korea talks in June at the earliest, the sources said.

If bilateral talks between the U.S. and North Korea resume, Japan is urging the U.S. to take up the issues of the Japanese citizens allegedly abducted by North Korean agents and the extradition of Red Army Faction members, who hijacked a Japan Airlines plane in 1970.

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