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Prime Minister Taro Aso and visiting U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg agreed Tuesday on the importance of passing a powerful U.N. Security Council resolution to impose additional sanctions on North Korea, Foreign Ministry officials said.

Steinberg said he discussed with Aso how to work together along with the other members of the six-party talks to persuade Pyongyang “to return to the path of complete and verifiable denuclearization.”

Steinberg agreed with Aso that North Korea cannot be allowed to possess nuclear weapons because it would pose a major threat to Japan’s security, the ministry officials said.

As well as Japan and the United States, the other members of the six-party talks aimed at denuclearizing Pyongyang are North and South Korea, China and Russia.

The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Japan and South Korea are holding discussions on a resolution the council plans to adopt in response to North Korea’s nuclear test last week.

“We think the closeness between the United States and Japan remains critical to our success in dealing with this challenge” during the council’s talks, Steinberg said.

On obtaining China’s cooperation in talks at the Security Council, he said Beijing is “actively engaging in discussions” and that the Chinese have had “a number of good ideas of their own.”

“We are working very closely to try to find common ground on that and I think we are going to come up with a good result in New York,” Steinberg said.

Aso told Steinberg at the outset of their meeting he has conveyed to President Barack Obama his concern at having a country next to Japan conduct a nuclear test.

Steinberg said a powerful and concerted response will be needed to deal with North Korea’s challenge to the global community, the Foreign Ministry officials said.

He plans to visit South Korea, China and Russia after his visit to Japan. On Monday, he met with Vice Foreign Minister Mitoji Yabunaka.

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