Japan has joined the United States and South Korea in agreeing
not to recognize North Korea as a nuclear weapons state, the
Japanese Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.
Tokyo's position was agreed to during a brief evening phone
conversation between Foreign Minister Taro Aso and US Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice, the Foreign Ministry said in a
The two diplomats said they would also consult with China,
Russia and South Korea on North Korea nuclear standoff on the
sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit later
this month in Vietnam.
The announcement comes hours after the United States and South
Korea said they would refuse to treat North Korea as a nuclear
state, indicating a difficulty that lies ahead when disarmament
talks resume with Pyongyang.
Seoul and Washington also agreed during high-level talks on the
need for "full and effective" implementation of a UN sanctions
resolution against Pyongyang for conducing a nuclear test. But they
made no mention of a US initiative primarily aimed at North Korea
that seeks to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction
by stopping ships suspected of trafficking.
The US has said it wants South Korea to increase its
participation in the US-led Proliferation Security Initiative and
UN sanctions banning the country's weapons trade, but so far Seoul
has only sent observers to exercises under the program.
The talks Tuesday included Nicholas Burns, US undersecretary of
state for political affairs, and Robert Joseph, US undersecretary
of state for arms control and international security.
"Both parties shared the view that North Korea's nuclear test is
a grave threat to peace and security on the Korean Peninsula,
Northeast Asia and beyond," the US and South Korea said in a
statement after the talks. "Both parties reaffirmed the position
that North Korea will not be recognized as a nuclear weapon
Meanwhile, there were signs of disagreements between Seoul and
Washington on how hard to press North Korea. Seoul has been
struggling to strike a delicate balance between its obligations to
punish North Korea under the UN sanctions resolution, and concerns
that aggravating its volatile neighbor could destabilize the
"Let me confess that many challenges are ahead of us. We need
confidence in our alliance," ROK Vice-Foreign Minister Yu
Myung-hwan said at the start of a meeting with Burns.
(China Daily November 8, 2006)