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(LEAD) Top nuke envoys of S. Korea, Japan hold talks amid renewed tensions over N.K. missile launch

All News 17:11 September 13, 2021

(ATTN: ADDS more info in paras 4-5)

TOKYO/SEOUL, Sept. 13 (Yonhap) -- The top nuclear envoys of South Korea and Japan held talks in Tokyo on Monday to discuss cooperation in resuming dialogue with North Korea, amid renewed tensions caused by Pyongyang's recent cruise missile launches.

The talks between Seoul's chief nuclear negotiator, Noh Kyu-duk, and his Japanese counterpart, Takehiro Funakoshi, came on the eve of their trilateral meeting with the U.S. special representative for the North, Sung Kim.

Earlier in the day, the North's official Korean Central News Agency reported that the country test-fired a new type of long-range cruise missile Saturday and Sunday in a low-intensity provocation amid stalled nuclear talks with the United States.

"I believe through such dialogue and consultations, the understanding of each other's position has deepened," Noh told Yonhap News Agency, noting the two sides discussed humanitarian assistance to the North.

Seoul and Washington have been discussing humanitarian support for Pyongyang in various areas, including public health, quarantine, sanitation and safe water, as part of efforts to encourage its return to dialogue.

Before his departure for Tokyo on Sunday, Noh took note of "considerable progress" in talks between Seoul and Washington over humanitarian projects, but he did not elaborate further.

The North's latest saber-rattling came amid concerns over signs of the recalcitrant regime reactivating a plutonium-producing nuclear reactor at its main Yongbyon complex and lingering tensions following its furious reactions to last month's South Korea-U.S. military drills.

During their trilateral gathering on Tuesday, Noh, Kim and Funakoshi are expected to discuss the security situation on the peninsula and trilateral cooperation on the resumption of dialogue with the North.

The three last held a three-way meeting in Seoul in June.

Nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang have remained deadlocked since the 2019 Hanoi summit between then U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ended without a deal.

This file photo, taken June 21, 2021, shows South Korea's chief nuclear negotiator, Noh Kyu-duk (R), and his Japanese counterpart, Takehiro Funakoshi, posing for a photo before their talks in Seoul. (Yonhap)


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