• Kyodo

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Japan, South Korea and the United States called on the international community Tuesday to provide a humanitarian response to North Korean asylum seekers.

In a statement issued after their joint two-day discussion in San Francisco, senior officials said the three countries “also expressed their desire for a humanitarian resolution to the North Korean refugee issue.”

The call came after Chinese authorities forcibly removed a North Korean man who had entered the South Korean Embassy’s consular office in Beijing with his son on June 13.

The incident followed similar recent cases at embassies and consulates in China, including one in which a five-member North Korean family who had sought asylum in the Japanese Consulate General in Shenyang were removed from the compound by Chinese police. The five were later allowed to travel to South Korea via the Philippines.

The statement said the three countries agreed they are now facing “a critical opportunity to improve relations with North Korea.”

Japan and South Korea welcomed U.S. plans to resume high-level talks with Pyongyang as early as this month, and expressed their intention to conduct their own dialogue with North Korea in parallel with U.S.-North Korea talks.

While calling on North Korea to accept international nuclear inspections under a 1994 accord, the three countries agreed on the “importance of comprehensive and flexible talks” with Pyongyang and stressed “the need for North Korea to take a constructive attitude,” according to the statement.

The 1994 accord between the U.S. and North Korea calls on Pyongyang to freeze its alleged nuclear weapons program in exchange for fuel oil and two light-water nuclear reactors to generate electricity.

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