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Japanese, US Legislators Discuss North Korea - 2004-07-20


A group of Japanese legislators has discussed the latest developments on North Korea, as well as Japan's role in the war on terrorism, with U.S. lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Five members of Japan's parliament, called the "Diet" met with their U.S. counterparts in the House of Representatives.

Congressman Christopher Cox, who heads the House Policy Committee, says the discussions covered everything from bilateral trade and economic issues to the war on terrorism, North Korea, and security in East Asia.

"We discussed our cooperation in the global war on terror, and also such regional security issues as North Korea and the PRC [China] missile buildup on the Taiwan Strait," he said.

The talks between U.S. and Japanese legislators were held as the House of Representatives prepares to vote on a bill that would step up pressure on Pyongyang over human rights issues, and urge China to improve its treatment of North Korean refugees.

"We are continuing our course of dialogue and pressure regarding negotiations with North Korea," said Japanese Diet member, Hidenao Nakagawa. "We are hoping to normalize our relationship with North Korea. However, before we enter a normalized relationship with North Korea, we have to solve the nuclear issues, missile issues, and kidnapping issues. We have to see the complete resolution on these issues, those are the targets, and we are working on it."

Multi-lateral talks with North Korea, including the United States, South Korea, China, Japan, and Russia, have produced what one U.S. official recently described as some progress, but no breakthroughs on the key issue of Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program.

There have also been a series of high-level contacts recently between North Korea and Japan, as well as South Korea, China and Russia. Mr. Nakagawa referred to these multi-lateral efforts after the Japanese parliament members met with U.S. lawmakers.

"We are part of the six-party negotiations regarding these issues with North Korea, and within that framework we will be coordinating and cooperating, including China and Russia, among these six major parties, so that we can reach the normalization of the relationship between North Korea and Japan in the future," he said.

On Iraq, Congressman Cox said U.S. lawmakers made clear their appreciation for Japanese help.

"I am expressive of America's very strong support for the leading role that Japan has played in bringing democracy to Iraq, and its support in the liberation of tens of millions of people in Iraq," said Mr. Cox.

Congressman Cox said he personally favors a permanent seat for Japan on the U.N. Security Council, given Tokyo's significant contributions to the U.N. budget.

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