SEOUL (Kyodo) Arrangements are being made to change the venue of the summit between South Korean President Lee Myung Bak and Prime Minister Taro Aso at the end of June from Kyoto to Tokyo, apparently in response to North Korea’s recent nuclear test, Japanese and South Korean diplomatic sources said.
In the wake of the May 25 underground nuclear test and amid signs the North is preparing to test-fire a long-range ballistic missile, the Japanese side determined that staging the summit in Kyoto would not be suitable, given its image as a tourist spot, and proposed moving the talks to Tokyo, according to the sources.
With the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election and the Lower House election approaching, Aso also appears intent on showing a tough stance on Pyongyang.
The summit, slated for June 28 and 29, forms part of the shuttle diplomacy that involves reciprocal visits by leaders of the two countries. They met in January in Seoul. At that summit, Lee agreed to visit Japan within the year.
Kyoto was scheduled as the venue with the aim of demonstrating the relaxed nature of the two leaders’ relations by having an informal meeting in a regional sightseeing area rather than formal talks in Tokyo.
The summit is expected to include an exchange of opinions on how to respond to the nuclear test and the prospects of progress in the six-way talks on the North’s denuclearization. Also on the agenda will be talks on accelerating discussions toward a bilateral economic partnership agreement.
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