China, Japan and SKorea urge Pyongyang to give up nuclear arms

Saturday, January 13, 2007 

China, Japan and South Korea agreed Friday to send a "clear message" to North Korea to scrap its nuclear programmes, said South Korean Foreign Minister Song Min-Soon.
"We agreed to send a clear message to North Korea that the beginning of an immediate implementation of the September 2005 agreement is the most desirable of all options," Song said.

At six-party talks in September 2005, North Korea agreed in principle to scrap its nuclear programmes in exchange for economic and energy benefits and security guarantees.

But it boycotted the forum two months later in protest at US financial sanctions imposed for alleged money-laundering and counterfeiting.

Song was speaking to reporters after meeting China's Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and Japan's Vice Foreign Minister Katsuhito Asano during preparatory meetings for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit.

The ministers declined to say when the six-nation talks may resume. The last round was held in Beijing last month after a 13-month break but ended without apparent progress.

"The sooner the better," Song said in response to questions.

It is unclear whether the "clear message" would be delivered at the six-nation forum.

Li reiterated that all parties -- the United States, the two Koreas, China, Japan and Russia -- involved in the talks should stick firmly to the goal of the denuclearisation of North Korea.

"We reaffirmed our common position on this," Li said.

The top diplomats were meeting to prepare for a meeting Sunday between Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun. This is expected cover a range of issues including how to persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear arms.

China, North Korea's main economic lifeline, reacted angrily to its nuclear test on October 9 and backed a UN Security Council resolution that imposed sanctions.



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