A top U.S. envoy and Japan's defense chief have agreed that "dialogue and pressure" are the best tactics for getting North Korea to give up its suspected nuclear weapons programs. The discussions have apparently provided a basis for more multilateral talks on resolving the crisis on the Korean peninsula.
The meeting between defense chief Shigeru Ishiba and visiting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly on Tuesday was meant to help clear the way for a second round of multilateral talks on the North Korean nuclear dispute.
After the meeting, Defense Agency Director General Ishiba told reporters Japan and the United States agreed to continue "dialogue and pressure" to persuade Pyongyang to halt its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Mr. Ishiba says resolving the matter diplomatically and peacefully does not mean accepting everything North Korea demands. He adds it would be unacceptable for Pyongyang to benefit from making threats and trying to possess nuclear bombs and other weapons of mass destruction.
After Monday's talks with Japanese officials, Mr. Kelly said discussions about a second round of six-way talks were positive but inconclusive. "[We] reviewed for them our efforts, which are ongoing, to help prepare for the next round of six party talks if and when that round is held, so that we can carefully work our positions to have the best opportunity for a successful round and end the nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula," he said.
A South Korean presidential aide on Monday said the talks will probably take place in Beijing December 17 through 18, but Mr. Kelly told reporters he did not know if a date had been set. Mr. Kelly continues his negotiations this week with Chinese and South Korean officials in Beijing and Seoul.
The first round of talks about the North Korea nuclear dispute took place in August. They involved the United States, both Koreas, China, Japan and Russia and ended inconclusively. Since then, the six nations have been working steadily to set a date for more talks.
Prospects for the next round brightened recently after diplomatic visits to Pyongyang by Chinese officials. China is one of the few allies of the isolated Stalinist state and Beijing's involvement in the negotiations is crucial.
North Korea's official news agency on Sunday indicated Pyongyang was backing away from its long-standing demand for a non-aggression treaty with Washington as a prerequisite for abandoning its nuclear programs.
The crisis began 13 months ago when Washington said Pyongyang admitted having a secret nuclear development program in violation of a 1994 accord with the United States.