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. Japan steps up pressure on North Korea ahead of G8 summit
HEILIGENDAMM, Germany, June 6 (AFP) Jun 06, 2007
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stepped up the pressure on North Korea over its nuclear ambitions on Wednesday, calling on his G8 partners to take a tough line against the reclusive state.

Abe made the fresh warning against nuclear-armed North Korea ahead of his first Group of Eight summit, which was to kick off Wednesday in this German resort.

"For North Korea, the exit to escape is getting narrower and narrower," Abe told journalists.

"Unless (North Korea) resolves the problems, there won't be any exit," the Japanese prime minister said.

"If North Korea leaves the problems unsolved, we should take severe action."

Abe said he wanted to seek support for his initiative during the three-day summit as well as in one-to-one talks with US President George W. Bush and France's newly elected President Nicolas Sarkozy later in the day.

North Korea in April missed its first key deadline in a disarmament-for-aid deal due to a dispute with the United States over frozen assets.

Abe, who is known for his hardline views on North Korea, also urged the G8 to confirm a united front over Pyongyang's abduction of Japanese citizens in the Cold War era.

"I want to make an effort to send a strong message from the G8 over both the nuclear and abduction issues," Abe said.

"The cooperation of the international community should not run to waste."

On Tuesday, Abe won the European Union's support for his drive on North Korea as he held an EU-Japan summit in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country currently holds both the EU and G8 rotating presidencies.

"The EU and Japan reaffirmed their strong commitment to the goal of denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula," the two sides said, urging the North to "expeditiously" meet its promise to close its nuclear reactor.

In an apparent breakthrough accord in February, the impoverished communist state agreed to close its only working reactor at Yongbyon by mid-April in return for massive aid and diplomatic concessions.

But North Korea refuses to act until it recovers 25 million dollars which have been frozen in a Macau bank since 2005 under US-instigated sanctions.

Japan has taken the hardest line at six-nation nuclear talks and has imposed economic sanctions, saying it will not help North Korea until the emotionally charged kidnapping dispute is resolved.

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