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US And North Korea Set For Beijing Nuclear Talks

North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan.

Nuclear-Armed US Ships Can Cross Japan Waters In Emergency
Tokyo (AFP) Nov 24 - Japan's defense chief said Friday it would overlook the passage of a nuclear-armed US military ship in Japanese waters in the event of an emergency. According to Japan's non-nuclear principles and Japanese-US security arrangements, Tokyo should refuse to allow a nuclear-armed US ship passage through its territory. "But in reality, I'm afraid it can be possible" for a nuclear-armed US military ship to sail through Japanese territory waters in case of emergency, Defense Agency Director General Fumio Kyuma told a parliament session.

"It would be unavoidable in the event of an emergency," Kyuma added. A nuclear debate has been heated here since ruling party officials openly called for the country to hold a frank debate on whether to develop nuclear weapons after North Korea's nuclear test on October 9.

Prime Minister Shizo Abe has downplayed a brewing debate in his party on Japan's own nuclear option, saying "we will stick to the three-point non-nuclear principles." Abe referred to the 1967 policy under which the only nation to suffer a nuclear attack has refused the possession, production and presence of nuclear weapons on its soil.

by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Nov 26, 2006
The United States and North Korea will hold talks in Beijing this week to discuss resuming six-party negotiations on Pyongyang's nuclear program, a Japanese report said on Sunday. US envoy Christopher Hill and North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan, the North's chief delegate in the talks, will meet as early as Tuesday, the Asahi Shimbun said quoting US and North Korean sources.

China's chief negotiator to the six-nation process, vice foreign minister Wu Dawei, is also likely to attend, the Japanese daily said.

The agreement was made by UN delegates of the United States and North Korea in New York after the two sides decided they needed to discuss the date and agenda of the talks.

Washington announced earlier that Hill, US assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific affairs and Washington's chief negotiator, is travelling to Beijing on Sunday.

Hill said last week that the talks would likely take place by the middle of December, but China said Thursday there was no firm date for a resumption.

Japan's top negotiator in the stalled negotiations, Kenichiro Sasae, will also visit Beijing from Sunday through Tuesday but is unlikely to join the US-NKorea talks, the report said.

The six-nation forum -- which involves the two Koreas, China, the United States, Japan and Russia -- is designed to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear programme.

The talks, launched in 2003 in an effort to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions, broke down a year ago when Pyongyang walked out in protest at US financial sanctions.

North Korea prompted international condemnation by conducting its first atomic test on October 9, but agreed on October 31 to return to the six-nation negotiations.

earlier related report
North Korea Talks Must Focus On Giving Up Nukes Says Japan
Tokyo (AFP) Nov 24 - North Korea must agree to discuss giving up its nuclear ambitions at upcoming six-nation talks despite its test of an atomic bomb last month, Japan's foreign minister said Friday.

Japan, which is part of the talks expected to resume soon, has repeatedly refused to recognize North Korea's nuclear arsenal as a fait accompli.

"The six-way talks started for the purpose of giving up nuclear weapons," Japanese Foreign minister Taro Aso told reporters.

"It would be meaningless to resume the six-way talks unless North Korea agreed to accept various conditions for returning to the talks," Aso said.

The North has boycotted six-way talks for a year in protest of US sanctions on a Macau-based bank accused of laundering and counterfeiting money for the impoverished regime.

North Korea on October 31 agreed to return to the talks, weeks after it tested its first nuclear bomb, inviting a raft of new international sanctions.

US envoy Christopher Hill will travel to China next week for more consultations on setting a date for the six-way talks, which bring together China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, South Korea and the United States.

Aso said Japan would again take up a row over North Korea's abductions of its citizens at the six-party talks. He said Japan was willing to meet bilaterally with Pyongyang's envoy.

North Korea has admitted kidnapping Japanese civilians in the 1970s and 1980s to train its spies and handed over five victims and their families to Japan in 2002.

Japan believes more kidnap victims are alive and kept under wraps because they know secrets.

Japan has repeatedly raised the emotionally charged row in six-way talks, angering North Korea and irritating China and South Korea.

earlier related report
NKorean official rejects bilateral talks with Japan
Tokyo (AFP) Nov 24 - A North Korean official Friday rejected bilateral talks with Japan at upcoming six-way negotiations due to Tokyo's hard line after Pyongyang's nuclear test, a report said. Japan has imposed a sweeping ban on all imports from North Korea since the impoverished communist regime conducted its first atom bomb test on October 9.

"By implementing the sanctions, the Japanese government is closing off the possibility of contact and exchanges in all areas," Ri Pyong-dok, a researcher in charge of Japan at the North Korean foreign ministry, told Kyodo News.

"This is my personal view, but I don't think sanctions and dialogue can exist at the same time," he was quoted as saying in an interview in Pyongyang.

He repeated North Korea's threat to retaliate against Japan in an unspecified way.

"We cannot sit and watch while enemy forces implement sanctions against us," he said. "On the content of what we will do, you will see it in time."

North Korea on October 31 agreed to return to six-nation disarmament talks, which involve China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, South Korea and the United States.

Top US envoy Christopher Hill was due to return next week to China, the host of the talks, to set a date.

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso said Friday that Tokyo was willing to hold bilateral talks with North Korea, as it had during previous rounds in Beijing, and press Pyongyang on its past abductions of Japanese citizens.

Japan has repeatedly raised the emotionally charged abduction row in six-way talks, angering North Korea and irritating China and South Korea.

North Korea has admitted kidnapping Japanese civilians in the 1970s and 1980s to train its spies and handed over five victims and their families to Japan in 2002.

Japan believes more kidnap victims are alive and being kept under wraps because of the secrets they know.

Japan on Monday added a 17th person to the list of abduction victims: factory worker Kyoko Matsumoto who disappeared from a coastal town in 1977 at the age of 29.

The North Korean official denied she was kidnapped.

"We have notified Japan through our governmental contacts up to this point that Ms. Matsumoto has not entered our territory," Ri told Kyodo News.

The North boycotted six-way talks for a year in protest over US sanctions on a Macau-based bank accused of laundering and counterfeiting money for the impoverished regime.

Aso said North Korea must agree to discuss giving up its nuclear program despite its test.

"The six-way talks started for the purpose of giving up nuclear weapons," the Japanese foreign minister said.

"It would be meaningless to resume the six-way talks unless North Korea agreed to accept various conditions for returning to the talks," he said.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Britain's Finance Minister Launches Nuclear Threat Warning
London (AFP) Nov 25, 2006
Finance minister Gordon Brown warned Saturday against unilateral British nuclear disarmament in a world where rogue states could acquire nuclear weapons. The chancellor of the exchequer, widely expected to take over as prime minister from Tony Blair next year, waded into the debate over replacing Britain's submarine-based Trident nuclear weapons system.







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