• Kyodo

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Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi will lobby to insert a pledge in the chairman’s statement at the upcoming Asia-Europe Meeting to help deepen North Korea’s involvement with the international community, Japanese officials said Sunday.

European and Asian leaders attending the three-day fourth ASEM summit starting later Sunday in the Danish capital Copenhagen are expected to talk at length about Koizumi’s landmark visit to North Korea and the upcoming talks on normalizing relations between Tokyo and Pyongyang.

The officials said Koizumi intends to take the lead in such discussions using the diplomatic coup he pulled off having met North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

One of Koizumi’s achievements was North Korea’s first-ever admission to abducting Japanese people in the 1970s and 1980s, followed by apologies for committing the abductions. The North also agreed to comply with all international agreements on nuclear issues on the Korean Peninsula as well as to extend its freeze on missile tests beyond 2003.

In exchange, Japan has agreed to resume talks, suspended for two years, by the end of next month on establishing diplomatic relations with the North.

Speaking to reporters aboard a plane en route to Copenhagen, Koizumi said he hopes to encourage his ASEM counterparts to support one another in guiding the reclusive country toward becoming “a responsible member of the international community.”

In the third ASEM summit held in Seoul in 2000, participating leaders adopted a declaration supporting moves to ease tensions between North and South Korea that emerged after the two countries’ leaders met in June 2000.

As ASEM’s chairman, South Korean President Kim Dae Jung also issued a statement calling for North Korea’s membership in the ASEAN Regional Forum, saying it would contribute to peace and stability in Northeast Asia.

ARF is the only forum dedicated to discussing Asia-Pacific security issues. Member countries include not only Southeast Asian countries, but Australia, Canada, China, the European Union, India, Japan, Mongolia, North and South Korea, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Russia and the United States as well.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is a regional political and economic group comprising Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

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