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LEAD: N. Korea wants 6-way talks soon after financial meeting: Yamasaki.

BEIJING, Jan. 13 Kyodo


North Korea wants the six-party talks on its nuclear programs to resume soon after it holds a meeting with the United States on U.S. financial sanctions later this month, a senior lawmaker of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party said Saturday after a visit to Pyongyang.

Taku Yamasaki, who was on a five-day visit to the country, said at a press conference in Beijing that North Korean officials also told him that whether Pyongyang will go ahead with a second nuclear test depends on the U.S. attitude toward the country.

Yamasaki said he met with a number of officials from the North Korean government as well as the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, including Song Il Ho, North Korea's ambassador in charge of diplomatic normalization talks with Japan.

Yamasaki declined to name the others he met, saying he agreed with North Korea not to reveal them.

The legislator said he and Song shared the view that the six-party talks aimed at ending the North Korean nuclear standoff should resume ''immediately after'' the financial talks between the United States and North Korea are held this month.

Yamasaki quoted Song as saying the U.S.-North Korea talks will be held on Jan. 22.

The dispute over U.S. financial restrictions on a Macao-based bank suspected of laundering money and circulating counterfeit bills for North Korea has blocked discussions in the six-party talks, which resumed in December after a 13-month hiatus but ended without progress.

The six-way talks involve the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia.

Yamasaki said that while he urged North Korea not to carry out a second nuclear test, Song replied that whether it will do so or not was ''up to U.S. actions.''

The lawmaker said other officials he met in Pyongyang expressed the same view, and that personally, he felt that North Korea had no immediate plan to conduct a nuclear experiment.

North Korea held its first nuclear test in October last year. The atomic experiment triggered international condemnation and a U.N. Security Council resolution that paved the way for economic and diplomatic sanctions against the country.

Song, meanwhile, complained bitterly about Japan's unilateral sanctions against the country for its nuclear test and July's missile launchings, and said Pyongyang currently has no plans to restart bilateral talks for normalizing diplomatic relations with Japan, according to Yamasaki.

Song called the sanctions ''a severe discrimination'' against North Korea, and indicated that the bilateral talks will not resume until the sanctions are lifted, Yamasaki said.

In addition to the sanctions under the U.N. resolution, Japan has carried out unilateral measures which include a ban on all imports from North Korea and a ban on North Korean nationals from entering Japan.

Song, however, confirmed that a September 2002 bilateral declaration, in which Japan and North Korea agreed to work toward normalizing ties and solve outstanding problems, remains intact, according to Yamasaki.

Among the major disputes between the two countries is one over Japanese nationals abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s. The two countries are divided over the number of those who were abducted, and whether some of them are still alive or not.

Yamasaki demanded that North Korea return to Japan those which Tokyo believes still to be alive in North Korea, while Song repeated North Korea's position that the issue has already been solved, according to the lawmaker.

Yamasaki, whose trip to Pyongyang had raised eyebrows in the Japanese government, said he was not tasked with conveying any message to the North Korean leader from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and none were given to him from Pyongyang to give to the Japanese premier.

Asked what he thought about the Japanese government's public display of displeasure toward his trip, Yamasaki said, ''I had anticipated that that may come about. But politicians should act, not only say things.''
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Jan 15, 2007
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