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Regional powers agree to keep using pressure to denuclearize N. Korea

All News 16:15 June 01, 2016

TOKYO, June 1 (Yonhap) -- The chief nuclear envoys of South Korea, the United States and Japan agreed Wednesday to continue using pressure on the North Korean regime to force it to give up its nuclear weapons program.

Kim Hong-kyun, South Korea's special representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs, said the three sides reached the agreement during trilateral talks in Tokyo earlier in the day.

"The international community needs to keep putting strong pressure (on North Korea) to draw a sincere change of attitude from the North," Kim told reporters. "Our three countries agreed to further urge each country to implement the U.N. Security Council resolution and to work together to strengthen its implementation."

The U.N. sanctions were adopted in March in response to North Korea's fourth nuclear test in January and long-range rocket launch in February. But Pyongyang has defied all U.N. resolutions and carried out further provocations, including the test-firing of an intermediate-range ballistic missile on Tuesday, which Seoul says failed immediately after the launch.

"We reaffirmed our existing principle that it is essential for the North to cease its threats and provocations, and demonstrate its sincerity about denuclearization through action, and that denuclearization must be the top priority in any future dialogue with the North," Kim said.

South Korea has turned down the North's recent proposals for military talks, insisting Pyongyang first show its commitment to denuclearize.

Sung Kim, U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, said now is not the time for talks with Pyongyang as the regime continues to launch provocations in violation of Security Council resolutions.

Kimihiro Ishikane, director-general of the Japanese foreign ministry's Asian and Oceanian affairs bureau, underscored the three countries' current policy on the North.

"Our biggest task is to urge the North to take meaningful steps toward denuclearization by properly implementing the U.N. Security Council's sanctions resolution over the North's provocations and using pressure to make the North feel the pain and change its thoughts," he said.

The three officials serve as the top envoys to the six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear program. The forum, which also involves China and Russia, has been suspended since late 2008.

The South Korea envoy said the three sides denounced Tuesday's missile launch as a violation of U.N. resolutions and a flagrant challenge to the international community. They also agreed that should the North continue such provocations, it will face stronger sanctions and isolation.

North Korea's former Foreign Minister Ri Su-yong has been on a visit to Beijing since Tuesday in an apparent bid to mend frayed ties with the ally and economic benefactor.

Ri, now vice chairman of the North Korean ruling party's central committee, is expected to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping later Wednesday.

Kim Hong-kyun said the three envoys discussed the visit but agreed to share their assessments of it once the trip is over. Sung Kim called on China to remind the North of its denuclearization commitments.

hague@yna.co.kr
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