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Saturday, May 28, 2005

Yachi 'perplexed' remarks got play, is issued warning


Staff writer

Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura on Friday urged Vice Foreign Minister Shotaro Yachi to "be careful" with his remarks, following media reports he told South Korean lawmakers earlier this month that Washington distrusts Seoul.

Speaking to reporters, Yachi effectively admitted he made the comments in question and said it was "regrettable" if his remarks "caused misunderstanding and invoked various discussions" within the South Korean government.

"The true intention of my remarks was to stress the importance of reinforcing cooperation between Japan and South Korea as well as among Japan, South Korea and the U.S.," Yachi said.

Yachi, the top Foreign Ministry bureaucrat, also said he was "perplexed" that his remarks, made during a private conversation with South Korean lawmakers over breakfast, were made public.

He also said he explained his position to Seoul via South Korean Ambassador to Japan Ra Jong Yil.

During his May 11 meeting with South Korean lawmakers, Yachi reportedly said Japan was "hesitant" to share intelligence with South Korea on North Korea's nuclear ambitions because it appeared the U.S. did not trust South Korea on matters pertaining to Pyongyang.

Angered by the remarks first reported by South Korean media, the South Korean presidential Blue House issued a statement Thursday, urging Japan to take due measures against Yachi's "irresponsible" remarks.

Japan, South Korea and the U.S. have stressed their unity in dealing with North Korea's nuclear threat. But Tokyo and Washington have recently reportedly been of the mind that Seoul is being too lenient toward Pyongyang.

Policy coordination

WASHINGTON (Kyodo) Japan, South Korea and the United States may hold a high-level policy coordination meeting next week in Washington over the stalled six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear ambitions, a senior U.S. official indicated Thursday.

Christopher Hill, U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, told a House of Representatives hearing that he will hold talks with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts next week in Washington and stress the need for Seoul and Tokyo to mend their recently soured ties.



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