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US, Japan, South Korea Discuss North Korean Nuclear Crisis - 2003-06-13

Senior diplomats from the United States, Japan and South Korea are meeting in Hawaii to discuss the impasse over North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

The closed-door talks by the Trilateral Coordination and Oversight Group are part of a regular series of meetings held about four times a year. The U.S. delegation is being led by James Kelly, Assistant Secretary Of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

The talks follow the group's Washington meeting in January, when officials called on North Korea to eliminate its nuclear weapons program, which violates a 1994 accord.

North Korea admitted publicly for the first time this week that it has an active nuclear program that can be used to create weapons of mass destruction as a deterrent to what it calls a "hostile" U.S. policy.

During the two-day meeting, officials are expected to call for prompt multilateral talks with the North Koreans, and a peaceful diplomatic solution to the standoff.

On Thursday, China urged the United States and other countries to exercise caution when dealing with North Korea, so that the crisis over its nuclear development does not worsen.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman in Beijing said the nuclear dispute is hurting stability on the Korean peninsula. He also said efforts are being made to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table, after an initial meeting with U.S. and Chinese officials in Beijing in April.