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Korea, Japan urge U.N. to discuss North Korea

TOKYO (AFP) - Japan and South Korea's foreign ministers said
Wednesday that the U.N. Security Council should take up the issue of North
Korea's uranium enrichment programme with a view to possible punishment.

Seiji Maehara of Japan and Kim Sung-hwan of South Korea told a news
conference that the North must take concrete steps to give up its nuclear
programmes as it had previously agreed.

"We confirmed that North Korea's uranium enrichment programme is a
violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution and a joint statement under six
party talks," Maehara said at the close of a meeting with Kim in Tokyo.

"We agreed that the international community's concerns over uranium
enrichment should be taken up at an appropriate forum like the U.N. Security
Council," Maehara said.

Kim Sung-hwan, South Korean foreign minister (left), and his Japanese counterpart Seiji Maehara shake hands before their meeting in Tokyo on Wednesday. (Yonhap News)
Kim Sung-hwan, South Korean foreign minister (left), and his Japanese counterpart Seiji Maehara shake hands before their meeting in Tokyo on Wednesday. (Yonhap News)

Tokyo and Seoul will work with Washington to persuade others to bring South
Korea before the global body, Maehara said.

China opposes taking the issue to the Security Council.
Beijing wants six-party disarmament talks revived as part of a process to
ease tensions on the peninsula. But the United States and Japan say Pyongyang must mend ties first with Seoul.

Kim said Seoul was keeping its door open for talks with Pyongyang but "the
North must show its sincere attitude" to make progress in improving relations.
"We don't believe in holding talks for the sake of holding talks," Kim said.

North Korea showed off its new enrichment programme to visiting U.S. experts
in November.
It says the plant will be part of a peaceful nuclear power project, but
experts say it could easily be reconfigured to produce material for atomic
weapons.

The six-nation talks grouping China, the United States, the two Koreas,
Russia and Japan, have been in stasis since December 2008.

The U.N. Security Council has ordered the North to shut down all atomic
activities following two tests of plutonium bombs.

The tense ties between the two Koreas deteriorated further following the
North's shelling of a South Korean island on Nov. 23, which killed four
people including two civilians and briefly raised fears of all-out war.

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