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Japanese Prime Minister Calls for Abolition of All Nuclear Weapons - 2003-01-11

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is calling on North Korea to reverse its decision to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Mr. Koizumi called for the abolition of all nuclear weapons, as he wrapped up a three-day visit to Moscow.

In a speech before a nuclear research institute in Moscow, Prime Minister Koizumi said North Korea should take immediate action to dismantle its nuclear program. The Japanese leader went a step further, calling for the complete elimination of all nuclear weapons.

Mr. Koizumi said he was speaking as the leader of the only country in the world ever to have been attacked with an atomic bomb, twice in 1945.

North Korea's nuclear intentions became the dominant issue in talks between the Japanese leader and President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin on Friday.

Both leaders expressed alarm at Pyongyang's withdrawal from the treaty, which seeks to control the spread of nuclear weapons.

On Saturday, North Korea suggested it might also abandon a moratorium on missile testing, the latest twist in the communist regime's brinkmanship with the world over its nuclear intentions.

In 1998, North Korea test fired a medium-range missile, which flew over Japan and into the Pacific Ocean.

Mr. Koizumi leaves Moscow after signing an action plan with Mr. Putin aimed at improving often-strained relations between Russia and Japan.

The two countries never signed a formal peace treaty in 1945, because the then-Soviet Union seized four islands, which Japan calls its Northern Territories.

Mr. Koizumi referred to the territorial dispute during his visit, saying more progress must be made to solve a problem, which prohibits the Japan-Russia relationship from reaching its full potential.

The Japanese prime minister ends his official visit to Russia on Sunday, with a stop in the far eastern city of Khabarovsk, where he meets Russian officials with close links to North Korea.