(LEAD) Top nuke envoys of S. Korea, U.S., Japan hold trilateral talks on N.K. diplomacy

송상호 / 2021-09-14 10:37:28
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(LEAD) S Korea-US-Japan talks
▲ South Korea's chief nuclear envoy Noh Kyu-duk (R) poses with his U.S. and Japanese counterparts, Sung Kim (L) and Takehiro Funakoshi, before their talks in Tokyo on Sept. 14, 2021. (Yonhap)

(LEAD) S Korea-US-Japan talks

(LEAD) Top nuke envoys of S. Korea, U.S., Japan hold trilateral talks on N.K. diplomacy

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; UPDATES throughout; CHANGES photo)

By Song Sang-ho and Kim Seung-yeon

TOKYO/SEOUL, Sept. 14 (Yonhap) -- The top nuclear envoys of South Korea, the United States and Japan held trilateral talks in Tokyo on Tuesday about efforts to resume dialogue with North Korea amid renewed tensions over the recalcitrant regime's recent missile launches.

The talks between Seoul's nuclear negotiator, Noh Kyu-duk and his U.S. and Japanese counterparts, Sung Kim and Takehiro Funakoshi, respectively, came after the North test-fired a new type of long-range cruise missile over the weekend amid signs of its reactivation of a plutonium-producing nuclear reactor.

Kim renewed his calls for the North to return to dialogue, while noting the recent developments in the North served as a reminder of the importance of close cooperation between the United States and its allies.

"As we have made it clear repeatedly, the United States has no hostile intent with the DPRK," Kim said in his opening remarks. The DPRK stands for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"We hope the DPRK will respond positively to our multiple offers to meet without preconditions," he added, stressing Washington, in the meantime, will continue to fully implement all U.N. Security Council resolutions on the North.

Noh, Kim and Funakoshi were expected to discuss humanitarian support and other incentives to encourage the North's return to dialogue, as it struggles with a series of economic and other hardships exacerbated by pandemic-driven border closures.

South Korea and the U.S. have been discussing humanitarian aid for the North in certain areas, including public health, sanitation and clean drinking water. Before his departure for Tokyo, Noh took note of "considerable progress" in consultations between the allies over such humanitarian support.

In recent months, Seoul has been revving up diplomacy to reengage with Pyongyang, seeking to tamp down lingering skepticism over a peace drive overshadowed by the reclusive state's continued pursuit of nuclear and missile programs.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has recently reported indications of the North resuming the operation of a five-megawatt nuclear reactor at its main Yongbyon complex, including the discharge of cooling water from the reactor.

Following the trilateral session, Noh and Kim were set to meet bilaterally. Noh and Funakoshi had two-way talks on Monday.

Noh, Kim and Funakoshi last held their three-way talks in Seoul in June. Last month alone, Noh and Kim held face-to-face talks in Seoul and Washington -- a sign of beefed-up cooperation among the countries over the North Korean issue.

Nuclear talks between Washington and Pyongyang have remained stalled since the Hanoi summit in 2019 between then-U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ended without a deal.


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