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(3rd LD) Leaders of S. Korea, Japan, China say time right for talks with P'yang

All Headlines 16:49 October 10, 2009

(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lead paras; UPDATES with additional details; RESTRUCTURES)
By Byun Duk-kun

BEIJING, Oct. 10 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Lee Myung-bak urged the international community to act quickly to denuclearize North Korea, which Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said was showing flexibility toward negotiations.

"North Korea not only wants improved ties with the United States, but also wishes to improve ties with South Korea and Japan," the Chinese premier told a joint press conference after a three-way summit with Lee and Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.

"The opportunity may disappear if we fail to seize it," Wen said.

Wen visited Pyongyang earlier this week and met with North Korea's top leader Kim Jong-il. During their meeting, Kim was quoted as saying that Pyongyang was willing to rejoin the six-party nuclear talks but that it depended on how anticipated bilateral talks with Washington proceed.

Pyongyang quit the denuclearization talks in April shortly after the United Nations condemned its launch of a long-range rocket that the North said was aimed at putting a satellite into orbit. The launch was widely seen as a disguised missile test.

The six-party talks involve South and North Korea, the U.S., Japan, China and Russia.

The South Korean president called on the countries to quickly come up with a package of incentives for the North that could be included in his proposed "grand bargain," which aims to irreversibly dismantle the communist nation's key nuclear capabilities in a single step rather than in phases.

"Now is a good time for North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions, and there will be good results if we can offer a proposal for a one-step solution of the nuclear issue and conditions for such a deal," he told the press conference.

China welcomed Lee's proposal for a grand bargain, dubbing it the "great exchange" in Chinese, according to Kim Eun-hye, a spokeswoman for Seoul's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae. Hatoyama, after a bilateral summit with President Lee on Friday in Seoul, called the proposal a "correct" way to denuclearize the North.

Lee said he hoped to explain the proposal, as well as countries' willingness to help the North, to Pyongyang if such an opportunity arises, but said any dialogue with the communist nation must be based on a premise and a pledge from Pyongyang that it will give up its nuclear ambitions.

"South Korea is open to any dialogue, but the final goal of a meeting between the South and the North is to make North Korea give up its nuclear ambitions," he said.

The leaders of South Korea, Japan and China reaffirmed their commitment to the peaceful denuclearization of North Korea in a joint statement issued at the end of their trilateral summit, which marked its 10th anniversary this year after starting on the sidelines of an annual regional summit hosted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

"We will remain committed to dialogue and consultation and continue to work through peaceful means to pursue the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," the statement said.

The three leaders agreed to boost their cooperation in other areas as well, saying it will contribute to peace and stability not only in the region but throughout the world.

"We will push the trilateral relations forward in the direction of good-neighborliness, mutual trust, comprehensive cooperation, mutual benefit and common development," said the joint statement.

"We are convinced that this will contribute to world peace, stability and prosperity," it added.

In the summit's opening remarks, Lee said joint efforts by the three countries had a "great impact" on the world, while the Japanese prime minister said his country will work to build relationships with the two Asian neighbors that are as strong as its alliance with the United States.

"I believe the Japan-U.S. alliance is important, but I also believe Japan, as an Asian nation, must build a policy that places more importance on Asia," Hatoyama said.

The leaders agreed to reinforce their cooperation at regional and international meetings, such as ASEAN and the G-20 economic summit, which will help promote their mutual interests in the international community and eventually lead to the building of a joint community in their region.

"We will make full use of the high complementarities and great potential of the three economies and bring to higher levels our cooperation in key areas such as business, trade, finance, investment, logistics, intellectual property, customs, information, science and technology, energy conservation, environmental protection and a circular economy," the statement said.

In a separate statement on sustainable development, the leaders also pledged joint efforts to fight climate change, reaffirming their "shared vision and responsibility for creating a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable future for the region and international community."

They said the countries will work together "to contribute to the successful achievement of the Copenhagen Conference, including the establishment of an effective post-2012 international cooperation framework on climate change."


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