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S. Korea, Japan Pledge Cooperation With US on N. Korean Nuclear Issue


South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon and his Japanese counterpart are vowing to coordinate closely with the United States over the resumption of talks with North Korea over its nuclear program.

A Japanese Foreign Ministry official described the promise after talks Sunday in Tokyo between Ban and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso.

Ban was quoted as saying Seoul and Tokyo had worked together closely in the past with Washington, and will continue to do so ahead of a new round of six-party talks planned for later this year.

Ban was also quoted as saying that resolving North Korea's nuclear stand-off will be a top priority when he takes over as United Nations secretary-general in January.

Meanwhile, Pyongyang criticized South Korea Sunday for sending a government delegation last month to U.S.-led naval drills in the Persian Gulf.

Participants in the drills rehearsed for planned U.N. inspections of cargo ships suspected of carrying North Korean-made weapons of mass destruction.

South Korea sent observers to the training instead of ships or troops, in a move widely seen as an effort to ease tensions across northeast Asia.

North Korea's ruling Communist Party newspaper nonetheless accused Seoul of blindly following U.S. policy that it says could ignite a war with catastrophic consequences.

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