Japan, South Korea and the United States on Tuesday welcomed the results of a recent visit to North Korea by a South Korean envoy, in which Pyongyang agreed to resume dialogue with the three countries.
During regular trilateral working-level talks in Tokyo, officials agreed to continue to coordinate their policies toward North Korea and keep up the momentum for dialogue, according to a Foreign Ministry official who briefed the media on the meeting.
South Korean envoy Lim Dong Won and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il agreed last week to resume family reunions and economic cooperation talks, and to accept a U.S. envoy visit to North Korea.
Kim also reportedly said the issue of “missing” Japanese could be discussed, although he denied Japan’s allegation that its citizens have been abducted by North Korean agents.
“We welcome recent developments with regard to dialogue with North Korea and reconfirm the importance of engaging North Korea in the international community through dialogue,” a joint statement issued after the meeting said.
The talks were attended by Hitoshi Tanaka, head of the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, Lee Tae Sik, South Korea’s deputy foreign minister, and James Kelly, U.S. assistant secretary of state for Asian and Pacific affairs.
Tanaka stressed the importance of North Korea taking a “constructive attitude” toward the abduction cases, and sought South Korean and U.S. support on the issue ahead of a meeting of Japanese and North Korean Red Cross societies, to be held as early as this month.
Kelly said the “best way to resolve issues of concern” is was through dialogue and that the U.S. is open for talks “anytime, anywhere and without preconditions.”
The Tokyo meeting was the first tripartite discussion since President George W. Bush said North Korea is part of an “axis of evil,” along with Iran and Iraq, in a State of the Union speech in January.
The delegations also urged North Korea to accept inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency for suspected nuclear-weapons development, a condition for providing Pyongyang with light-water reactors via a consortium from the three countries.
The ministry official said that Tuesday’s meeting had a “positive” atmosphere.
“It was different from previous meetings because there have been various developments,” the official said.
The next round of the regular trilateral meeting will be held in the U.S.
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