China, Japan, S. Korea seek resumption of N. Korea nuclear talks

BEIJING, Oct 10: The leaders of China, Japan and South Korea on Saturday called for the quick resumption of talks on ending North Korea’s nuclear drive, with Beijing saying the door was open to making real progress.

The leaders, who pledged to deepen regional cooperation, said they would work together to ensure the success of global climate talks in Copenhagen later this year and promote the development of clean energy technologies.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak said they “remained committed” to the development of an East Asia community as a “long-term goal”.

But finding a way to bring North Korea back to stalled six-party disarmament talks was clearly the focus of the summit, and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao — who visited Pyongyang just a week ago — said the international community needed to seize the moment.

“We are faced with an opportunity, but this opportunity may slip by. The key is what we do. We need to seize the opportunity and make the most of it,” Chinese Prime Minister Wen told a joint press conference.

“On the issue of the six-party talks, the DPRK (North Korea) side showed flexibility,” he added, noting that Pyongyang “not only hopes to improve its relations with the United States, but also to improve relations with Japan and South Korea.” North Korea said on Monday during Wen’s visit to Pyongyang — the first by a Chinese prime minister in 18 years — that it was willing to return to six-party talks but only if it first was granted direct negotiations with the United States.

The US has said it would agree to bilateral talks within the framework of the six-party disarmament forum, but that the goal must be a complete end to DPRK’s nuclear weapons drive.

The six-way negotiations are hosted by China, a close ally of North Korea, and also include South Korea, the United States, Russia and Japan.

Wen, Hatoyama and Lee said they would push “with other parties for an early resumption of the six-party talks, so as to safeguard peace and stability in Northeast Asia” in a statement issued after their talks.

Both Lee and Hatoyama said they were encouraged by Chinese Premier Wen’s descriptions of DPRK’s attitude.

“Premier Wen said North Korea was willing to have talks with South Korea. I welcome this,” Lee told journalists.

Hatoyama added: “I would like to trust these words.”

Lee said he had presented what he describes as a “grand bargain” for North Korea’s nuclear disarmament — massive aid and diplomatic and security guarantees in return for a firm commitment to total denuclearisation.—AFP

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