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NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 76 (October 15, 2009)

All Headlines 10:56 October 15, 2009

*** TOPIC OF THE WEEK (Part 1)

East Asian Leaders Agree on Efforts to Resolve N. Korean Nuke Issue

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Lee Myung-bak urged the international community to act quickly to denuclearize North Korea during a trilateral summit with Japan and China in Beijing on Oct. 10.

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 socialist 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. Yukio Hatoyama, after a bilateral summit with President Lee on Oct. 9 in Seoul, called the proposal a "correct" way to denuclearize the North.

President Lee said he hoped to explain the proposal to Pyongyang, as well as countries' willingness to help the North, if such an opportunity arises, but added that any dialogue with the socialist nation must be based on 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," Lee said.

The idea of a singe-step solution was proposed last month by the South Korean president, who urged an end to North Korea's "salami tactic" of dividing its denuclearization process into a multitude of bargaining chips. The proposal seeks to irreversibly dismantle North Korea's key nuclear facilities in one single step, instead of in phases, in exchange for a massive package of incentives to be put together by the five other nations in the nuclear talks.

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.

At the second trilateral summit held outside of the annual regional summit hosted by the ASEAN, the three leaders agreed to work together for an early restart to the six-party talks, releasing a joint statement commemorating the 10th anniversary of the talks. The first freestanding summit was held last December in Fukuoka, Japan. The first-ever three-way talks between the neighbors were held in 1999 on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit.

The three leaders, whose countries accounted for 16 percent of the global gross domestic product last year, vowed at the summit to seek ways for the implementations of Lee's "grand bargain" proposal. Under the plan, North Korea would dismantle the key parts of its nuclear arms program in exchange for security assurances and economic aid, the end of sanctions and months of tension sparked by its nuclear test in May.

"Impending issues for Japan not only include North Korea's nuclear weapons and missiles but also the abduction of Japanese by the North," said Hatoyama, who took office last month. "Japan intends to resolve those issues comprehensively and this has something to do with Lee's Grand Bargain."

After the summit, Seoul's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said in a press release that the three leaders reconfirmed the six-party talks were the most effective measure for resolving the North Korean nuclear issue and agreed to continue their joint efforts for an early resumption of the talks."

"President Lee and Premier Wen noted the relationship between their two countries has steadily developed since it was upgraded to a 'partnership of strategic cooperation' last year and agreed to further strengthen exchanges between the two nations," Cheong Wa Dae said.

In Seoul on Oct. 9, leaders of South Korea and Japan held a bilateral summit and made public their strengthened cooperation in resolving the North Korea nuclear crisis, promoting a one-step solution to end the pattern of rewarding the North's bad behavior.

"We agreed on the need for a fundamental and comprehensive solution to the North Korean nuclear issue that will not lead to the negotiation tactics of the past, and we agreed to work closely together on a way to resolve the issue in a single step," Lee said in a joint press conference after his summit with the Japanese prime minister.

Hatoyama said Lee's proposal for a "grand bargain" was a "very accurate, correct" approach to denuclearizing the North. "We must find out North Korea's true intentions by pursuing a complete and comprehensive solution to North Korea's nuclear, as well as its ballistic missile programs. Unless North Korea shows willingness to give them up, we must not provide economic assistance," the Japanese premier told the press conference.

President Lee said he was convinced the North will eventually come back to the negotiating table, but stressed that Seoul and Tokyo should continue to faithfully implement U.N.-imposed sanctions on the North until the communist state does so.

"Prime Minister Hatoyama and I reached an agreement that for the resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue, a change of North Korea's attitude was necessary. To this end, we agreed to work for the North's return to the negotiating table while fully implementing the U.N. Security Council sanctions," Lee said.

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