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Japan, South Korea Leaders Pledge Cooperation on North Korea Strategy - 2004-07-21


The leaders of Japan and South Korea say they will coordinate policy on resolving the North Korean nuclear issue. The two leaders have begun a two-day meeting on the South Korean resort island of Cheju.

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun say they will boost cooperation for a peaceful end to North Korea's nuclear-weapons programs.

At a joint news conference, President Roh, said he hopes the next round of multi-lateral talks on North Korea, scheduled for September in Beijing, will gain momentum. President Roh also said North Korea can expect to receive massive economic aid from Seoul if it abandons its nuclear ambitions.

Prime Minister Koizumi told reporters South Korea and Japan should work closely with the United States to pressure Pyongyang to completely halt its nuclear programs. The prime minister also said that if North Korea honors the terms of an accord signed with Japan in 2002, Tokyo would hope to establish diplomatic relations with Pyongyang in the next year or two. Japan and South Korea, along with China, Russia, the United States and North Korea have been participating in talks about Pyongyang's nuclear development programs.

Although Japan and South Korea are seen as taking a flexible approach toward Pyongyang, Japanese officials say they still have differences on how to get North Korea to end its nuclear activities.

Undersecretary of State John Bolton said in Seoul that North Korea would benefit if it followed Libya's example, and gave up its nuclear programs. He noted the United States has normalized relations with Libya and ended most sanctions against it when Tripoli gave up its nuclear ambitions.