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LEAD: Koizumi, Ban agree to cooperate to settle N. Korea nukes.

TOKYO, March 8 Kyodo

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Monday he and South Korean Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Ban Ki Moon agreed during their talks earlier in the day to work closely to settle North Korea's nuclear ambitions through the framework of six-nation dialogue.

Koizumi told reporters at his office that he and Ban discussed the need for Japan and South Korea ''to communicate closely and cooperate'' based on the outcome of the second round of the six-party talks held late last month in Beijing.

A Japanese Foreign Ministry official said Koizumi and Ban also agreed on the importance of trilateral cooperation among South Korea, Japan and the United States to resolve at an early date the nuclear issue.

Ban was quoted as telling Koizumi that South Korea is committed to settling the nuclear issue peacefully and in a complete, verifiable and irreversible way -- a position also maintained by Japan and the U.S. but rejected by North Korea during the six-way talks.

South Korea offered during the six-way talks to provide energy aid to North Korea on condition that North Korea freeze its nuclear programs and commit in due course to dismantle them completely. Japan and the U.S. supported the offer but refused to join in providing aid.

The South Korean minister arrived in Japan directly from the U.S., where he met with President George W. Bush on Tuesday last week.

Koizumi called for South Korean help in the effort to settle the issue of North Korea's past abductions of Japanese, telling Ban, ''I want to make relationships between Japan and South Korea deal more closely with North Korean issues, given there is the abduction issue,'' according to the official.

China, Japan, North and South Korea, Russia and the U.S. wrapped up the second round of their talks after agreeing to hold a third round by the end of June and set up a working group.

Japanese and North Korean delegates held talks to discuss abduction and other bilateral issues on the sidelines of the six-way meeting. Japan proposed resuming full-fledged governmental talks in mid-March and the North Korean side promised to respond after discussing it back home.

Ban also agreed with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda earlier Monday that the two countries should work closely to schedule both the next round of six-nation talks and the first session of an envisaged working group, according to Fukuda.
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Date:Mar 9, 2004
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