Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage voiced concern Monday over Iran’s suspected development of nuclear weapons.

“I intend to wait for a report from the International Atomic Energy Agency” before judging whether Iran possesses nuclear arms, Kawaguchi said in a meeting with Armitage.

Armitage welcomed a joint statement by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun that said Tokyo and Seoul will take further steps if North Korea escalates its nuclear posturing.

The statement reiterated earlier sentiments expressed by the three countries. The Bush administration, which has emphasized the need to step up pressure on North Korea, has been concerned that South Korea is getting too soft on Pyongyang.

“The U.S. is ready to include Japan and South Korea in a multilateral dialogue with North Korea,” Armitage added.

Kawaguchi said she supports Bush’s recent proposal to establish an international framework to prevent the global proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

“We would like to actively participate in future talks” on the issue, she said.

Armitage said he intends to cooperate closely with Japan on ways to proceed with Bush’s initiative.

Armitage is in Japan to attend an international donors conference on Sri Lanka and hold strategic talks with Vice Foreign Minister Yukio Takeuchi on Tuesday.

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