SEOUL--Japan, the United States and South Korea will press a reluctant China to turn up the heat on an increasingly provocative North Korea at a trilateral foreign ministers’ meeting to be held in July.
The agreement to hold a meeting on reining in a hostile North Korea was reached in a bureau chief-level meeting in Seoul on May 21. The July session will likely be held in Cambodia when the ministers take part in an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting.
The three countries confirmed that they will call on China, which has close ties with North Korea, to demand that Pyongyang refrain from taking increasingly provocative acts.
They also agreed that their foreign ministers will issue a strong message on North Korean policies and discuss new strategies for dealing with the reclusive communist nation.
The May 21 meeting was attended by Shinsuke Sugiyama, director-general of the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau; Glyn Davies, the U.S. special envoy for North Korean policy; and Lim Sung-nam, Seoul’s chief nuclear envoy.
In February, the United States and North Korea agreed that Washington would offer food aid to Pyongyang on the condition that North Korea temporarily suspend its programs for long-range missiles, nuclear testing and uranium enrichment. The agreement was expected to pave the way for resuming the six-party talks between North Korea, South Korea, China, the United States, Russia and Japan on North Korea's nuclear program.
In April, however, North Korea conducted a long-range missile test, which was unsuccessful. The U.N. Security Council condemned the test in a presidential statement.
In a May 13 summit held in Beijing between Japan, China and South Korea, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said that the time has come to take more effective measures to curb North Korean provocations.
In a May 18 summit meeting of the Group of Eight leading industrialized nations, held in Camp David in Maryland, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said that China’s role is an important one in dealing with North Korea.
In line with those remarks, Sugiyama, Davies and Lim agreed in their May 21 meeting that China's presence is vital in formulating effective policies toward North Korea.
However, China has asked Japan, the United States and South Korea not to apply too much pressure on North Korea. In preparing the joint declaration issued after the May 13 trilateral summit in Beijing, China opposed the call for taking a strong stance toward North Korea.
In the May 21 meeting, however, Japan, the United States and South Korea agreed that China’s conciliatory stance will not have sufficient effect on restraining North Korea. Therefore, Davies plans to ask China to take a stricter stance toward North Korea and reduce its assistance to Pyongyang.
(This article was written by Toru Higashioka and Akihiko Kaise.)
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