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Allies Fine-Tune NK Proposal in Tokyo

Allies Fine-Tune NK Proposal in Tokyo

Senior officials from South Korea, the United States and Japan on Monday (Sept. 29) began consultations in Tokyo on how to jointly approach the envisioned six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear programs.

Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Soo-hyuck, who left Seoul earlier in the day, was joined by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly and Japanese Foreign Ministry Director-General Mitoji Yabunaka _ all representatives of their respective countries at the six-way talks.

“We will exchange assessments of the first six-way talks’ results and a joint strategy for the next talks,” Lee said prior to departure. “If necessary, we may schedule an additional round of informal talks next month.”

Bilateral talks between Lee and Yabunaka were followed by a welcome dinner hosted by the Japanese delegation Monday evening.

On Tuesday, U.S.-Japan and Korea-U.S. meetings will be followed by a wrap-up plenary session, ending the informal two-day meeting.

At the center of the talks is a joint proposal to be submitted to North Korea at the next six-way meeting. It could propose a security guarantee and energy assistance in return for the North’s renouncement of its nuclear ambitions.

Foreign Affairs-Trade Minister Yoon Young-kwan said Sunday that he expects the U.S. to come up with a more progressive plan at the sequel to the Aug. 27-29 Beijing talks.

“The U.S. is showing a more flexible attitude,” he said upon returning from a U.S. trip where he met with Secretary of State Colin Powell on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.

Ministry sources said there is a high possibility that Washington may embrace a “parallel” or synchronized approach to the North Korean nuclear crisis, backing down from its insistence that Pyongyang must give up its nukes first for dialogue to bear fruit.

Also important is how to resume inspections of the North’s nuclear facilities, should Pyongyang agree to abandon the nukes, as the presence of the International Atomic Energy Agency was deemed insufficient in preventing the current crisis.

The possibility of an international inspection regime where the participants of the six-way talks, which also include China and Russia, all dispatch inspectors to North Korea has also been discussed.

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