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U.S., Japan Discuss N. Korean Nukes

October 20, 2002

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TOKYO (AP) _ A senior U.S. envoy met Sunday with Japan’s top government spokesman Sunday as part of a diplomatic campaign to deal with North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly held talks with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda. They were expected to discuss whether to freeze construction on two light-water nuclear reactors in North Korea as a penalty for its violation of a 1994 arms control agreement.

Public TV broadcaster NHK reported that Kelly is urging Japan to proceed with negotiations to normalize diplomatic ties with North Korea to help persuade Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear program. The report did not cite a source for the information.

Kelly declined to answer questions from reporters as he entered the meeting and no one from the Japanese government was immediately available for comment.

The U.S. envoy is expected to meet Monday with Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi and Defense Agency chief Shigeru Ishiba Monday before he returns to Washington.

Kelly has been shuttling between Asian nations since Friday to discuss North Korea’s admission that it has a clandestine nuclear weapons development program in violation of a 1994 agreement with the United States.

Under the 1994 deal, North Korea agreed to halt efforts to develop nuclear weapons in exchange for light-water reactors, which produce power but use non-weapons grade radioactive materials. A U.S.-led consortium broke ground on the reactors in August.

In South Korea, officials opened three days of talks Sunday with representatives of the north in hopes of persuading the isolated, communist regime of scrapping its nuclear weapons program.

Update hourly