US, Japan call for tough G8 line on North Korea
HEILIGENDAMM, Germany, June 6 (AFP) Jun 06, 2007
The United States and Japan on Wednesday called on G8 partners to take a tough line against North Korea's nuclear arsenal, warning their patience with the reclusive state is running out.
North Korea featured prominently in talks between US President George W. Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ahead of the Group of Eight summit in the German resort of Heiligendam, officials said.
Abe said North Korea had not done enough to ease international concerns over its nuclear programme, and a dispute over Japanese abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 80s.
"So we agreed that the G8 leaders need to send a strong message to North Korea on these issues" in the declaration at the end of the summit, Abe said after the Bush talks.
"There is a common message here, and that is we expect the North Koreans to honor agreements," Bush commented.
"And it's very important for the Japanese people to know that I strongly support Shinzo Abe's desire to deal with this very important issue ... the abduction issue," the US leader added.
"Both the leaders equally said that their patience must have limits," said a Japanese government official, who declined to be named.
Early Wednesday, the Japanese premier pressed North Korea to take immediate action to meet its promise to close a nuclear reactor suspected of fueling its weapons programme.
"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," he said. "If North Korea leaves the problems unsolved, we should take severe action."
North Korea in April missed a key deadline in a disarmament-for-aid deal due to a dispute with the United States over frozen assets.
Abe, who is known for 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.
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.All rights reserved. © 2005 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.