Top officials meet as North Korea nuclear test feared
SEOUL, South Korea (AFP) - Senior US, South Korean and Japanese officials began talks Monday, May 21, on North Korea and other issues amid concerns the communist state may be planning another nuclear test, Seoul's foreign ministry said.
The one-day talks involve Glyn Davies, the US special envoy for North Korea policy, Lim Sung-Nam, South Korea's top nuclear envoy, and his Japanese counterpart Shinsuke Sugiyama.
Expectations of a third atomic test by Pyongyang have grown since the United Nations Security Council condemned the North's failed long-range rocket launch on April 13 and tightened existing sanctions.
The North said its aim was only to put a peaceful satellite into orbit but the UN said it breached a ban on testing ballistic missile technology.
North Korea responded with nuclear tests after the UN imposed sanctions against its rocket launches in 2006 and 2009.
Satellite photos last month showed work under way at its atomic test site but gave no indication of whether or when a test would be staged.
"In response to the failed launch, the international community... has been able to send a clear and consistent message to Pyongyang that North Korea should refrain from any further provocations," Lim said in opening remarks quoted by Yonhap news agency.
"There will be a different path for them if they make the right decision," Lim said, adding he hoped the Monday talks could "lead North Korea to the right side of peace".
Group of Eight leaders expressed "deep concerns" Saturday at the North's "provocative actions" and condemned the rocket launch.
"We affirm our will to call on the UN Security Council to take action, in response to additional DPRK (North Korean) acts, including ballistic missile launches and nuclear tests," they said in a statement after a summit.
Davies will leave for Beijing on Tuesday, where he plans to meet China's chief nuclear envoy Wu Dawei, and will go on to Tokyo Wednesday.
A US-North Korean deal announced on February 29 had raised hopes of progress under Pyongyang's new leader Kim Jong-Un.
The North pledged to suspend uranium enrichment and impose a moratorium on nuclear and missile tests in return for 240,000 tons of US food aid.
Pyongyang insisted its launch was not a missile test but Washington suspended the food aid, saying the North could not be trusted. - Agence France-Presse