‘Specific’ U.N. steps on North expected


The United Nations was expected to take new action Monday over North Korea’s failed launch last week of a long-range rocket in a manner that will satisfy Japan and other major powers, Kurt Campbell, the top U.S. diplomat on East Asian policy, said.

Campbell, speaking to reporters in Tokyo after holding talks with senior Japanese officials, said, “The process at the United Nations, you will see specific steps on Monday” in New York.

“There is very close coordination between the United States and Japan and I think what we have heard is satisfaction with how we work together,” Campbell said at the Foreign Ministry, when asked whether Tokyo and Washington have already agreed on how the U.N. Security Council should respond to the North’s latest provocation.

Campbell said at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport before leaving for Seoul that the United States and its allies are “focused on what’s in the language” of their denunciation of North Korea.

The Security Council is exploring the possibility of issuing a presidential statement to condemn North Korea for carrying out the launch last Friday despite strong international opposition.

The United States and China, both permanent members of the council, agreed over the weekend on a draft presidential statement condemning the launch, according to diplomats in New York.

The draft also says the launch was a serious violation of existing U.N. Security Council resolutions.

The United States currently holds the rotating council presidency, while Japan is not part of the most powerful 15-member U.N. body.

Japan has been asking the United States and other members of the council to issue a strong message against North Korea in response to the launch, which formed the centerpiece of celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the birth of the communist nation’s founder, Kim Il Sung.

Japan, the United States and many other countries believe the launch, despite being a major failure, was a cover for testing long-range missile technology.

North Korea has insisted that the launch was aimed at putting what it insisted was an Earth observation satellite into orbit for peaceful purposes. But the three-stage Unha-3 rocket disintegrated shortly after liftoff and fell into the Yellow Sea.

Japan and four members of the Security Council — Britain, France, Russia and the United States — agreed last week that they will take a firm stand against North Korea.

Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba told reporters in Washington on Thursday after attending a meeting of the Group of Eight nations that China, the North’s close ally and one of the five permanent members of the council with veto power, “holds the key” to paving the way for the release of a strong message over the “missile” launch.

During the talks at the ministry, Campbell, who was in Tokyo for two days from Sunday, also discussed preparations for Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s visit to Washington and the ongoing review of how to transfer some of the U.S. Marines stationed in Okinawa to Guam and elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region.

“We are still comparing perspectives. But we have made a lot of progress over the course of discussions yesterday and today,” Campbell said. “I am very confident that we will be able to come to an agreement on the way forward between the United States and Japan on the issues associated with the forces realignment.”

Japan and the United States are now reviewing the 2006 plan on the realignment of U.S. forces here amid the changing security environment in the region.

When Noda and U.S. President Barack Obama next hold talks, they are expected to agree on some of the specifics of the military realignment plan.