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NKorean Nuclear Negotiators To Meet In Tokyo

Once in a blue moon - North Korea's Kim Gye-Gwan has been allowed into Japan.
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Apr 07, 2006
Japan on Thursday approved a rare visit by a senior North Korean official, bringing together chief negotiators from all six nations in the stalled talks on ending Pyongyang's nuclear drive.

North Korea's Kim Gye-Gwan and his counterparts from the five other countries will be in Tokyo during a private security forum next week and are expected to meet one another on the sidelines, officials said.

The Japanese government gave permission to Kim and several other North Korean officials to attend the conference, Foreign Ministry Press Secretary Yoshinori Katori said.

"Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye-Gwan has completed procedures and obtained permission to enter the country," Katori told AFP. Japan and North Korea have no diplomatic relations and visits here by Pyongyang officials are very rare.

The forum, organized by the University of California's Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, brings together government officials and academics from the six nations -- China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, South Korea and the United States.

It will be the first gathering of officials from the countries since talks aimed at dismantling the North's nuclear program bogged down in November after Washington accused Pyongyang of counterfeiting US dollars and laundering money.

The North has denied the charge and demanded the United States lift financial sanctions before it returns to the talks.

The forum, which has met 17 times since 1993 to discuss security affairs in Northeast Asia, will open a five-day conference on Sunday with a main session scheduled for Monday and Tuesday.

"We give great emphasis on this conference and have always participated in it," Kim told reporters at Beijing airport.

"About other problems, we will wait and see," Kim said.

Kim's US counterpart, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Christopher Hill, is scheduled to attend the meeting, a US embassy spokesman here said earlier.

He said Hill had no immediate plan to meet Kim face to face.

South Korea will be represented at the forum by Deputy Foreign Minister Chun Young-Woo, who is also Seoul's chief delegate to the six-nation talks, Katori said.

China's chief delegate to the talks, Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei, will visit Tokyo and meet his counterparts, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said Thursday.

"Wu Dawei doesn't plan to attend this meeting but he will be in Tokyo at the same time, and he will have contacts with other heads of delegation to exchange views with them on the six-party talks," Liu said.

Kim's Russian counterpart Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Alexeyev, currently visiting for talks with Japanese officials, told public broadcaster NHK that he or his deputy will attend the private conference.

Kenichiro Sasae, director general of Asian and Oceanian affairs at the foreign ministry, heads the Japanese delegation.

Sasae will meet Hill and most likely Chun on the sidelines of the security conference, Katori said. "It is not clear at the moment if he will meet the other counterparts."

Source: Agence France-Presse

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