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LEAD: Japan, U.S. agree to raise abductions at 6-way talks.

TOKYO, Nov. 18 Kyodo


Japan and the United States agreed Tuesday on urging North Korea to abandon its nuclear arms program in a verifiable and irreversible way, and raising the issue of Japanese abducted by the North at the next round of six-way talks, Japanese officials said.

The two countries also confirmed the importance of taking an approach of dialogue and pressure in dealing with North Korea, the officials said, referring to separate meetings in Tokyo between U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs James Kelly and Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi and Defense Agency chief Shigeru Ishiba.

Kawaguchi and Kelly agreed to continue close bilateral cooperation to resolve the nuclear issue under the six-way framework, and reaffirmed the need to urge North Korea to completely abandon its nuclear arms program, the officials said.

Kelly also briefed Kawaguchi and Ishiba on possible security assurances that the U.S. would provide to North Korea in return for complete abandonment of its nuclear arms program.

Ishiba, the agency's director general, told reporters after his meeting with Kelly, ''Japan and the U.S. agreed that (such assurance for North Korea) would not affect the Japan-U.S. security treaty at all.''

China, Japan, North and South Korea, Russia and the U.S. are currently preparing for a second round of the six-nation talks, which are likely to be held around mid-December in Beijing.

Kelly told reporters after his meeting with Kawaguchi that he still does not know about the timing of the next round, adding he intends to discuss the issue with Chinese officials.

Ways to address North Korea's security concerns and encourage the North to completely dismantle its nuclear program are major agenda items for the next round.

During her meeting, Kawaguchi reiterated the importance of addressing the abductions at the next round, and Kelly expressed support for Japan's stance.

Japan is seeking a comprehensive solution to security issues concerning North Korea, such as its missile and nuclear developments as well as the abductions.

But China, which is playing a key role in encouraging North Korea to accept another round, has expressed reluctance to deal with the abduction issue in multilateral talks.

China says the six-way talks should focus on the nuclear issue.

Kelly was quoted as telling Kawaguchi that his talks with Japanese officials will be a ''good basis'' for talks with China and South Korea. Kelly left for Beijing after his talks with Kawaguchi, and will visit Seoul later this week.

Kelly held intensive talks on Monday with Mitoji Yabunaka, head of the Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, to prepare for the next round of six-way talks.

Meanwhile, Ishiba and Kelly also agreed on the need to maintain dialogue and pressure to resolve the North Korean nuclear standoff, the officials said.

Ishiba emphasized that to obtain a peaceful and diplomatic solution to security problems such as the North's nuclear arms program, it is necessary to put pressure on the North and it is important for Japan and the U.S. to cooperate closely on the matter.
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Date:Nov 24, 2003
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