Japan, US, South Korea call on North Korea to return to arms talks

TOKYO (AP) — Senior diplomats from Japan, the United States (US) and South Korea yesterday called on North Korea to return to talks over its missile and nuclear development, a day after Pyongyang announced it successfully tested new long-range cruise missiles, suggesting advancement of its military capabilities.

The three-way meeting in Tokyo included US Special Representative for North Korea Policy Sung Kim, South Korea’s Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs Noh Kyu-duk and Japan’s Director-General for Asian and Oceanian affairs
Takehiro Funakoshi.

US envoy Kim said the three countries were open to diplomacy with the North “as we see to make tangible progress that increases the security of the US and our allies”.

Kim called on North Korea to “respond positively to our multiple offers to meet without preconditions”.

Washington and its allies will continue to work to fully implement all United Nations Security Council resolutions in addressing North Korea’s missile development, he added.

South Korea’s Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs Noh Kyu-duk, right, speaks during a trilateral meeting with Japan and US representatives. PHOTO: AP

On Monday, the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported that the new missiles showed they can hit targets 1,500 kilometres away.

The North hailed its new missiles as a “strategic weapon of great significance”, suggesting that they were developed with the intent to arm them with nuclear warheads. North Korea said it needs nuclear weapons to deter what it claims is hostility from Washington and Seoul. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is also scheduled to meet with South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong today. Chung is expected to seek a more active role from Beijing, Pyongyang’s main ally and economic lifeline, in persuading the North to return to the negotiation table.

Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told a regular news conference yesterday that the trilateral meeting had been scheduled before North Korea’s test-firing of the missiles, but the meeting the day after would be a “good occasion to reconfirm close cooperation among the three countries and discuss the latest North Korean situation”.

Japanese officials and some experts said North Korea’s weekend missile test-firing was a “new threat” to the region.

Japan and South Korea are separate key allies for the US presence in the Asia-Pacific region.