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(LEAD) New Japanese nuclear envoy to visit S. Korea

All Headlines 16:56 October 26, 2015

(ATTN: UPDATES with meetings between nuclear envoys, other details from 4th para)

SEOUL, Oct. 26 (Yonhap) -- Japan's new top envoy to the six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear program will visit South Korea this week for talks with his counterparts and other senior officials from the region, the Foreign Ministry said Monday.

Kimihiro Ishikane, director-general of the Japanese foreign ministry's Asian and Oceanian affairs bureau, will take part in a multilateral forum on the Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative on Wednesday, the ministry said in a press release.

The initiative is one of President Park Geun-hye's key foreign policy objectives, which aims to strengthen regional cooperation by first building trust through cooperation on soft issues, such as nuclear safety, disaster management and the environment.

Other participants include Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Hong-kyun; Sung Kim, U.S. special representative for North Korea policy; Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin; and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov.

On the forum's sidelines, Seoul's chief nuclear envoy, Hwang Joon-kook, will hold separate talks with his counterparts, Sung Kim, Ishikane and Morgulov, on Tuesday and Wednesday, the ministry added.

Their discussions will likely focus on ways to deter North Korean provocations and bring Pyongyang back to the six-party denuclearization talks, which have not been held since late 2008. China is the other member and host of the forum.

President Park Geun-hye, U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed a firm commitment to resolving the North Korean nuclear issue during recent bilateral summits.

"Our government will continue to strengthen our diplomatic efforts in terms of deterrence, pressure and dialogue for progress on the North Korean nuclear issue," the ministry said.

Ishikane was recently appointed to replace Junichi Ihara as chief of the Asian affairs bureau and chief delegate to the six-party talks.

In Seoul, he is also expected to meet with Lee Sang-deok, director-general of the ministry's Northeast Asian affairs bureau, for talks on the issue of Korean women who were forced into sexual slavery for Japanese soldiers during World War II.

The issue, which has been a major thorn in bilateral ties, will be the key focus of next week's summit talks between Park and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The ministry will also sponsor a separate forum hosted by the Sejong Institute, a private think tank near Seoul, from Tuesday through Thursday. The forum will draw more than 200 experts from the region to discuss the initiative, with a special focus on energy security, cyberspace, the environment and disaster management.


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