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S. Korea, U.S., Japan to discuss Cheonan

Top diplomats from South Korea, the U.S. and Japan are scheduled to hold discussions on follow-up measures toward North Korea for the sinking of the Cheonan during a meeting on Wednesday in Seoul, diplomatic sources said.

The meeting will bring together Seoul’s chief nuclear negotiator Wi Sung-lac, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell and Japan’s director-general of the Asian and Oceanian affairs Akitaka Saiki.

The U.S. and Japanese officials arrived here on Tuesday.

Campbell’s trip comes shortly ahead of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s scheduled one-on-one with Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan later Wednesday.

The U.S. and Japanese diplomats are to be briefed on a meeting between Chinese special representative on Korean Peninsular affairs Wu Dawei and Wi on Tuesday.

The trio is expected to discuss the possibility of referring the Cheonan issue to the U.N., and how to enlist international support for the referral.

Seoul has said it would seek stronger sanctions via the U.N. after announcing last week that a multinational investigation team has found North Korea to have torpedoed the Cheonan on March 26, taking the lives of 46 sailors.

South Korea, however, will need the support of all permanent members of the U.N. including Beijing, which maintains close ties with Pyongyang.

The U.S. has expressed its support, while Japan -- a non-permanent member -- has said it would seek separate sanctions on the North.

The three officials also are likely to discuss the resumption of the stalled six-way talks aimed at ending North Korea‘s nuclear weapons programs.

Seoul has refused to return to the dialogue until the Cheonan issue has been resolved, and it receives an apology from Pyongyang.

The talks were first put on hold last year after the North said it would “permanently” boycott the discussions to retaliate a U.N. denouncement of its rocket launch.

Along with the two Koreas, the U.S., Japan, China and Russia are partners in the multilateral denuclearization talks.

By Kim Ji-hyun  (