National

Nakasone, Seoul's Yu see need to document North nuke process

Kyodo

Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone and his South Korean counterpart, Yu Myung Hwan, agreed Thursday that participants in the six-party talks on denuclearizing North Korea must put together a document that clearly spells out a mechanism for verifying Pyongyang’s information about its atomic programs, Japanese officials said.

It was the first meeting for the pair, who are in Lima to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum’s ministerial talks. Nakasone and Yu also agreed to meet again in December for the next round of working-level talks to resume bilateral negotiations for a free-trade agreement.

The two foreign ministers reaffirmed their countries’ intentions to cooperate closely in dealing with issues such as the abductions of their compatriots by North Korea and the global financial crisis, the officials said.

Concerning the six-party talks, Nakasone stressed to Yu the importance for nuclear negotiators of the countries involved to agree at their next meeting on a framework that can “steadily verify” information North Korea provided in June on its nuclear programs.

There had been speculation that the talks among top delegates from North and South Korea, the United States, China, Japan and Russia might be held in Beijing by the end of this month.

But host China has recently indicated it is not yet ready to call the next meeting due to differences over how to put the verbal accord on the verification scheme, reached between the United States and North Korea in October, on paper.

Nakasone touched on the stalled talks between Tokyo and Pyongyang and said the North has not fulfilled its agreement with Japan to launch a fresh investigation into the Japanese its agents abducted in the 1970s and 1980s.

Yu responded that Seoul wants to “cooperate as much as possible” with Japan on the matter, the officials said.

On the economic front, Nakasone and Yu agreed that the second round of preparatory talks seeking to restart the stalled economic partnership agreement negotiations will be held Dec. 4, the officials said. The first working-level talks were held in June in Tokyo.

The negotiations have been suspended since November 2004, after Tokyo rejected Seoul’s demand that Japan further open up its market to agricultural products.

Efforts to resume the discussions have been hampered by the July decision by the education ministry in Tokyo to include a claim to sovereignty over islets held by Seoul in a teaching guideline for junior high schools.