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Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009

Okada, Yu want to keep pressure on N. Korea

Staff writer

Sanctions imposed on North Korea by the U.N. Security Council will remain in place until Pyongyang returns to the six-party talks and halts its nuclear programs, Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada and his South Korean counterpart, Yu Myung Hwan, said Tuesday.

Following a trilateral foreign ministerial meeting in Shanghai on Monday with his opposite numbers from China and South Korea, Okada met with Yu in Tokyo for bilateral talks.

"Japan, South Korea and the United States will coordinate closely and carefully" on the Pyongyang nuclear threat, Okada said at a news conference.

"North Korea's nuclear program is a threat to regional security in Northeast Asia," Yu added, repeating Okada's message that Tokyo and Seoul will work together.

Okada said the scheduled visit to Pyongyang by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao next month could help push the hermit state to return to the denuclearization talks.

"China has the most influence on North Korea," Okada said, expressing hope that Wen will touch on the abductions of Japanese nationals as well as making progress on denuclearization talks.

On South Korea's ties with Tokyo, Yu said he looks forward to building a close relationship with the Democratic Party of Japan administration and that he welcomes the party's view on history.

"We will not forget our history, but we must not be constrained by our past," he said.

President Lee Myung Bak has said a visit by Emperor Akihito to South Korea would make the bilateral relationship closer than ever. But the two ministers said such a trip has not been discussed between the two countries.

Okada only said he would "give cautious consideration" to the politically sensitive issue.

Monday's trilateral foreign ministerial meeting and Tuesday's bilateral talks laid the groundwork for trips by Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama to South Korea and China next month, where he is expected to discuss an expansion of regional cooperation and how to handle North Korea's nuclear development program.

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The Japan Times

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