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Japan, U.S., S. Korea affirm efforts to denuclearize N. Korea

TOKYO — Senior diplomats from Japan, the United States and South Korea agreed Tuesday to continue their efforts toward the denuclearization of North Korea through “dialogue and sanctions,” a Japanese foreign ministry official said.


Their meeting in Tokyo came a day after Pyongyang said it had successfully carried out tests of a new long-range cruise missile over the weekend.


At the outset of the three-way talks, Takehiro Funakoshi, head of the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, said, “Our cooperation becomes all the more important as North Korea advances furthermore in its nuclear and missile development.”


Sung Kim, U.S. special representative for North Korea, said in response, “We hope the DPRK will respond positively to our multiple offers to meet without preconditions.” DPRK is the acronym of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, North Korea’s official name.


Noh Kyu Duk, South Korea’s special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, referred to the possibility of providing humanitarian assistance to North Korea.


U.S.-North Korea denuclearization talks are currently stalled as they have fallen short of bridging the gap between Washington’s push for complete denuclearization and Pyongyang’s calls for sanctions relief.


Washington said Monday it remains ready to engage with Pyongyang toward ridding the country of its nuclear weapons even after the North announced the test-firing of the new cruise missile.


The United States has offered to meet “anywhere, anytime without preconditions” with North Korea, but Kim said Pyongyang has yet to respond to Washington’s call.


The new cruise missile can hit a target 1,500 kilometers away, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency, a range that would include almost all of the Japanese archipelago.


The trilateral meeting was last held in June in Seoul.

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