N Korea must take action to defuse tensions: Gates

Last Updated: Thursday, January 13, 2011 - 15:55

Tokyo: US Defense Secretary Robert Gates Thursday urged North Korea to take concrete steps to show it is "serious" about talks after the nuclear-armed regime offered a
resumption of dialogue in recent days.

Gates, in Tokyo as part of an Asia tour, called on the regime to cease its "belligerent behaviour" and said that US efforts were focused on preventing Pyongyang from resorting to
aggression.

Although the US supported reviving talks, "there must
be concrete evidence on the part of the North that they are
finally serious about these negotiations," Gates said at a
news conference with his Japanese counterpart, Toshimi
Kitazawa.

During an earlier stop in Beijing, Gates suggested
North Korea could prove its sincerity by freezing further
missile or nuclear tests.

Describing his talks in the region this week, the
Pentagon chief said the United States, Japan, South Korea and
China all had a "common interest" in securing peace and
stability on the divided Korean peninsula.

Washington has worked with all four countries to try
to prevent tensions in the region from spinning out of control
after Pyongyang shelled a South Korean island in November,
killing four people.

The United States has repeatedly pressed China to
exercise its influence with its ally North Korea, and Gates
this week credited Beijing with playing a helpful role in
recent months.

The North quit six-party nuclear disarmament talks in
April 2009 and conducted its second atomic weapons test a
month later, but has indicated willingness in principle to
return to the talks.
The forum, chaired by the North`s major ally China,
also includes the two Koreas, the United States, Japan and
Russia.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-Hwan meanwhile
said efforts to revive the negotiations had gained momentum.

"China has slightly different opinions on the North`s
stance so we have more to discuss (with Beijing)," the
minister told Yonhap News Agency.
Despite Pyongyang`s positive statements, the United
States, Japan and South Korea say the North must mend ties
with the South and show seriousness about denuclearisation
before discussions resume.

Bureau Report



First Published: Thursday, January 13, 2011 - 15:55

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