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Further Escalation of North Korean Nuclear Issue Will Require Tougher Measures

Further Escalation of North Korean Nuclear Issue Will Require Tougher Measures

Posted May. 25, 2003 21:38,   


At the May 23 summit between U.S. President George W. Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, an agreement was reached regarding North Korea’s nuclear crisis in that it should be solved diplomatically, but that further escalation of tensions by the North would require "tougher measures."

On May 24, North Korea hinted at the possibility of a departure from its previous refusal to multilateral talks, saying that if "the U.S. participates in bilateral talks with us, we will agree to multilateral talks in line with U.S. wishes."

At a joint press conference held after the summit at the U.S. President’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, the two leaders both said: "We are confident that our diplomatic approach will bring about a peaceful solution. We agreed that further escalation of the situation by North Korea will require tougher measures from the international community."

They also said that they would not tolerate any steps the North takes towards possessing nuclear weapons and that in future talks with Pyongyang, Seoul and Tokyo should be included.

In dealing with North Korea`s nuclear ambitions, both dialogue and pressure are needed, the Japanese Prime Minister said. On May 24, he also told reporters that he would take tougher measures against illegal trade, smuggling and drug trafficking involving North Korea.

Meanwhile, a spokesman at North Korea’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement on May 24, one month after the three-way talks with China and the U.S. in Beijing. In the statement, the North Korean government said, "The U.S. has not said a single word about our new, bold proposal. Instead, it is only holding onto talks. If the U.S. first proposes a bilateral meeting with us, we might be able to accept multilateral talks along with U.S. wishes."

A source within Japan’s Foreign Ministry interpreted the statement released by Pyongyang as hinting at a willingness to accept multilateral talks. Major Japanese newspapers ran the story on their front pages.

With regard to the agreement on May 23 by Mr. Bush and Mr. Koizumi that South Korea and Japan should join talks with North Korea, a spokesman for China`s Foreign Ministry, Zhang Qiyue, said that "China’s position puts priority on pushing forward with three-way talks and for the time being, China will not consider the participation of Seoul and Tokyo in the dialogue with Pyongyang."