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US, Japan And South Korea To Push North Korea On Nuclear Deal

Roh and Bush agreed that all of the agreements reached at the latest round of denuclearization talks in Beijing should be faithfully enforced, and jointly vowed to use the end of North Korea's nuclear program to pave the way for a permanent end to the Korean War, said the South Korean leader's spokesman.
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Feb 14, 2007
US President George W. Bush and leaders of Japan and South Korea agreed Wednesday to work together to ensure North Korea keeps its commitments under a landmark nuclear deal, the White House said. Bush telephoned Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun, who "agreed on the importance of close coordination on North Korea," said US national security council spokesman Gordon Johndroe.

Bush said the new accord "has provided a way forward for North Korea, but that North Korea must live up to its commitments. The Japanese and South Korean leaders pledged to make sure that North Korea does so," he added.

Roh's spokesman and a Japanese press agency confirmed that the allies had agreed to keep pressure on the Stalinist regime to abide by the terms of the agreement unveiled Tuesday.

The pact, reached after marathon six-country talks grouping China, Japan, North and South Korea, Russia and the United States, aims to end the crisis over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programs.

The agreement calls for North Korea to close key nuclear facilities within 60 days in exchange for energy aid and US diplomatic concessions. Pyongyang, through its official media, says the pact requires only a temporary shut-down.

The US president also assured Abe that he would push for resolving the issue of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea.

"President Bush assured Prime Minister Abe of his commitment to see North Korea resolve the issue of Japanese abductees and his commitment to overall improvement of human rights conditions in North Korea," said Johndroe.

Roh and Bush agreed that all of the agreements reached at the latest round of denuclearization talks in Beijing should be faithfully enforced, and jointly vowed to use the end of North Korea's nuclear program to pave the way for a permanent end to the Korean War, said the South Korean leader's spokesman.

"The two leaders shared the assessment that North Korea's nuclear problem is on the threshold of a full-scale settlement, as the North is about to enter the phase of dismantling its nuclear arsenals," said Yoon Seung-yong.

North and South Korea have remained technically at war since the 1950-53 conflict ended without a peace treaty.

Japan's Jiji Press news agency, citing a Japanese government official, reported that Bush and Abe had agreed to jointly press North Korea on the nuclear accord's requirement that it shutter key atomic facilities.

"The two leaders confirmed Japan-US cooperation in realizing North Korea's abandonment of nuclear weapons," Jiji quoted the official as saying.

During the telephone conversation, Bush expressed sympathy for little progress in the row over North Korea's abductions of Japanese civilians in the 1970s and 1980s, Jiji reported.

Bush told Abe that he fully understood the importance of the abduction issue, saying it should not be left behind, according to Jiji.

The nuclear deal reached in Beijing on Tuesday sets up a working group on relations between North Korea and Japan. The joint statement called for the two countries to hold dialogue to settle past issues and establish diplomatic ties.

North Korea admitted in 2002 that it had kidnapped Japanese civilians to train its spies in Japanese language and culture. It returned five victims and their families, but Japan says more are being kept under wraps.

Japan has repeatedly raised the issue in the six-way forum, angering North Korea and irritating dialogue participants China and South Korea, which said the focus should be the nuclear program.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Riyadh (AFP) Feb 14, 2007
Saudi Arabia confirmed Wednesday that it was in talks with Russia over the possible purchase of Russian weapons for the first time and welcomed Moscow's offer to help it develop nuclear energy. "There are no obstacles to cooperation between the two countries in all fields pertaining to... armament and nuclear energy," Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told reporters two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Saudi Arabia.







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