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Japanese and U.S. ministers urge North Korea to act on nuclear pledge

Japanese and U.S. ministers urge North Korea to act on nuclear pledge

The United States on Tuesday signaled its willingness to give North Korea more time to act on a February nuclear disarmament pledge but said the world's patience would not be endless.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, speaking after meeting with Japan's foreign and defense ministers, said she recognized that North Korea has recently expressed its commitment to a Feb. 13 agreement to begin abandoning its nuclear program in return for economic aid and political concessions.
But the North missed an April 14 deadline to shut down its nuclear reactor. It has refused to move forward until a dispute over $25 million (euro18 million) in North Korean funds is settled.
Rice said the financial issue has been more complicated than anyone had expected and that negotiators were willing to give the North more time.
But, she added, "we don't have endless patience."
Despite North Korea's failure to meet its deadline, the United States has toned down its criticism of the North in an effort to keep the negotiating process from collapsing.
The Bush administration, dealing with a bloody war in Iraq and strong opposition from a new Democrat-led Congress, is eager for a clear-cut foreign policy success and hopes North Korea could be it.
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso, standing at Rice's side, said that Japan and the United States will continue to strengthen ties following recent missile and nuclear tests by North Korea and an anti-satellite weapon test by China.
Rice and Aso, along with Japanese Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma and U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, also pledged to make "steadfast" progress on an ambitious plan to transform the U.S. military presence in Japan.
The countries reached a sweeping agreement last year to realign the 50,000 U.S. forces that have been stationed in Japan since World War II. The goal is to give Japan, the top U.S. ally in Asia, greater responsibility for security in the region, while reducing tensions between U.S. troops and local residents.
The ministers met Monday and Tuesday, discussing joint missile defense and efforts to move a U.S. Marine Corps airstrip from its position next to the bustling city of Ginowan on the Japanese island of Okinawa to a more remote location and to shift 8,000 Marines on the island to Guam, a U.S. Pacific territory, by 2014.
Many in Okinawa complain of noise, pollution, crime and the risk of potential aviation accidents. Others, however, say the troops help the island's economy.
The talks come as Japan seeks a more assertive role in regional and world affairs. Japan has contributed to reconstruction efforts in Iraq and serves as one of five countries pressing North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.


Updated : 2021-08-01 14:59 GMT+08:00