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Japan's new prime minister and South Korea's president are maintaining
a firm joint position on North Korea. At a summit meeting, the two
said Pyongyang has much to gain by bold action on nuclear weapons, but
will receive nothing if it holds out.
South Korean President
Lee Myung-bak welcomed Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama Friday at
the presidential Blue House in Seoul. Mr. Lee said the two are in
harmony on dealing with North Korea's nuclear weapons.
both leaders agree on resolving the North Korean nuclear issue without
repeating "old patterns" of negotiating. Instead, says President Lee,
he and Mr. Hatoyama will discuss a "fundamental, comprehensive way" to
solve the problem with their international partners.
and Japan have taken part in a six-nation diplomatic process for the
past six years aimed at getting rid of North Korea's nuclear weapons.
China, Russia, and the United States also are involved. Pyongyang has
boycotted the process numerous times, and tested two nuclear weapons.
Lee describes his proposal as a "grand bargain" for the North. It is
seen as an attempt to accelerate the disarmament process by making the
North's actions bolder, and the rewards for cooperation bigger.
Prime Minister Hatoyama says Japan backs that approach.
says Mr. Lee's grand bargain, a package settlement, is correct. He
says unless Pyongyang shows willingness to give up its nuclear weapons,
the two countries should not provide any aid to the North.
President Lee says he expects North Korea will "carefully consider" the grand bargain.
He says he believes North Korea understands this is, in his words, "the last method we can do."
North Korea experts are skeptical about whether Pyongyang will be
willing to accept the grand bargain. Some think North Korea will not
end its nuclear programs under any circumstances.
Baek Seung-joo, with the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses here in
Seoul, think Pyongyang benefits from the drawn-out six-nation process.
says North Korea wants to extend the six-nation process into as many
phases as possible, so they get something in return for each phase. He
says the possibility of North Korea given that up that in favor of a
grand bargain is very low.
Another question remains - whether
North Korea will actually attend six-party talks at all. North Korean
leader Kim Jong Il said this week he "may" return to the six-party
talks, contingent on bilateral meetings with the United States. North
Korea has often said the nuclear issue is a matter to be handled
between it and the United States alone. That is a stance the other
nations in the talks oppose.