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SKorea's top diplomat stresses cooperation with Japan in NKorea nuclear talks

SKorea's top diplomat stresses cooperation with Japan in NKorea nuclear talks

South Korea's new foreign minister and Japan's prime minister agreed Wednesday that the two countries must cooperate closely to resolve the lingering issue of North Korea's nuclear weapons, Japan's Foreign Ministry said.
Song Min-soon, who arrived in Japan on Tuesday, also met separately with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso and exchanged documents ratifying a mutual legal assistance treaty, the ministry said in a statement.
Earlier Wednesday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told Song during an exchange of greetings before reporters that he was "delighted" Song had chosen Japan for his first overseas trip since becoming Seoul's top diplomat in early December.
"I hope both countries will work together so that these (bilateral meetings) will be accepted naturally," Song said in response.
Song's trip comes after six-nation talks on curbing North Korea's nuclear ambitions failed last week in Beijing.
Abe and Song agreed their countries should work closely and with the United States to resolve the Korean nuclear problem, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
North Korea pledged last year to give up its nuclear weapons program in exchange for security guarantees and aid, but later boycotted the negotiations to protest financial restrictions that the U.S. placed on North Korean bank deposits because of the North's alleged financial crimes.
Song and Aso exchanged ratification documents for a mutual assistance pact to streamline cooperation between agencies of both countries in cross-border criminal investigations, the ministry said. The treaty goes into effect Jan. 26, it said.
During Song's trip to Japan, the two sides are also expected to discuss steps to mend strained ties, including a possible visit to Japan by South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun _ his first since June 2003, according to South Korea's Foreign Ministry.
Bilateral ties have been frayed by territorial and historical disputes, including a row over former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's repeated visits to a war shrine that honors Japan's war dead, including convicted war criminals.
The visits angered many on the Korean Peninsula, which Japan ruled as a colony in 1910-45.
The frosty relations began to thaw after Abe made a fence-mending trip to Seoul in October, less than a month after taking office.
Song, Seoul's former top nuclear envoy, succeeded Ban Ki-moon, who will become the secretary-general of the United Nations in January.


Updated : 2021-06-18 10:13 GMT+08:00