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(LEAD) S. Korea, U.S., Japan set for trilateral talks on N. Korea

All Headlines 06:22 June 14, 2013

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with remarks by U.S. State Department official on trilateral relations, other details)
By Lee Chi-dong

WASHINGTON, June 13 (Yonhap) -- Top South Korean, U.S. and Japanese diplomats handling the North Korea issue plan to meet in Washington next week to assess related situations and discuss future steps, sources here said Thursday.

Cho Tae-yong, South Korea's special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, will be at the U.S. capital from Tuesday to Thursday, his first overseas trip since taking up the position in late May.

Cho, who will serve as Seoul's top delegate to the six-way talks on North Korea's nuclear program if they resume, is scheduled to hold a trilateral meeting on Wednesday with his American and Japanese counterparts _ Glyn Davies and Shinsuke Sugiyama, said the sources.

It would mark the first time that the three nations have held such a high-level tripartite meeting on North Korea in six months.

"It would be Representative Cho's first meeting with the U.S. and Japanese officials. So, it is sort of an introductory session," a diplomatic source said.

They are expected to have discussions on a range of issues on North Korea, including the results of the recent meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping, the latest development in inter-Korean relations, the source said.

The U.S. State Department will likely make an announcement on the upcoming three-way event on Friday, another source said.

Washington has long pushed for strengthening trilateral cooperation with its two regional allies on North Korea and pending global issues.

"The United States has very strong security and diplomatic ties with Korea and with Japan, and we very much would like to work to continue to enhance our security partnerships in order to maintain peace and stability in Northeast Asia," Deputy Assistant Secretary of State James Zumwalt said during his ongoing visit to Tokyo, according to footage on the department's Web site.

"Also with both Japan and Korea, we have a global partnership and we work together very closely, not only in North East Asia but around the world," he said, citing cooperation on Syria and Africa as examples.

On the U.S. engagement with North Korea, Zumwalt said Washington remains open to "authentic and credible talks" with that country.

"What that means is we very much would like to engage on the basis of our existing agreements, which would lead to the denuclearization of the Korean Pennsula," he said.

Earlier this week, the two Koreas came close to the resumption of a high-level dialogue but it was aborted amid disputes about the rank of their top delegates. The disputes were attributable to a lack of mutual trust.

Many say talks between the two Koreas are unlikely for the time being.

The last time the six-way negotiations on Pyongyang's nuclear drive were held was in December 2008.

On his way back to Seoul, meanwhile, Cho may visit Beijing to meet Wu Dawei, China's special representative for Korea Peninsula Affairs.



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