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Japan, S Korea rebuff N Korea peace proposal

Last Updated: Saturday, January 16, 2010 - 16:15

Tokyo: Japan and South Korea on Saturday brushed aside North Korea`s call for early talks on a peace treaty, saying they have no plans to lift sanctions unless it first makes progress in scrapping nuclear weapons.
Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada met his South Korean counterpart Yu Myung-Hwan ahead of a two-day meeting of top diplomats from East Asian and Latin American countries, a Japanese Foreign Ministry official said.

The two Foreign Ministers held their first meeting since North Korea on Monday called for talks on a treaty to formally end the 1950-53 war before it puts the issue of dismantling its nuclear programme on the table.

During the talks, Okada and Yu said their countries will "never allow" Pyongyang to go ahead with nuclear and missile development, and agreed not to accept any plan to lift sanctions immediately, the official said.

They agreed that stalled six-party nuclear disarmament talks must resume first, and "confirmed the importance of urging (North Korea) to take concrete and forward-looking action," the official said.

"Minister Yu said it`s important to maintain a two-track approach -- opening the window of dialogue and carrying out sanctions firmly -- and Minister Okada replied that he agreed on it," the official added.

The North has long called for a treaty to officially end the conflict, which ended only with an armistice, leaving the parties technically at war. A US-led United Nations force fought for the South, China backed the North.

Six-party agreements in 2005 and 2007 envisage talks on a peace treaty but only in return for full denuclearisation. The North said the peace pact should come first.

Pyongyang has also offered to resume negotiations if the sanctions against it are lifted.

Bureau Report

First Published: Saturday, January 16, 2010 - 16:15
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