Japan, US, S Korea Call On N Korea To Return To Arms Talks

TOKYO (AP) -- Senior diplomats from Japan, the United States and South Korea Tuesday called on North Korea to return to talks over its missile and nuclear development, a day after Pyongyang announced it successfully tested new long-range cruise missiles, suggesting advancement of its military capabilities.

The three-way meeting in Tokyo included U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy Sung Kim, South Korea's Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs Noh Kyu-duk and Japan's Director-General for Asian and Oceanian affairs Takehiro Funakoshi.

U.S. envoy Kim said the three countries were open to diplomacy with the North "as we see to make tangible progress that increases the security of the United States and our allies."

Kim called on North Korea to "respond positively to our multiple offers to meet without preconditions."

Washington and its allies will continue to work to fully implement all United Nations Security Council resolutions in addressing North Korea's missile development, he added.

On Monday, the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported that the new missiles showed they can hit targets 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) away.

The North hailed its new missiles as a "strategic weapon of great significance," suggesting that they were developed with the intent to arm them with nuclear warheads. North Korea says it needs nuclear weapons in order to deter what it claims is hostility from Washington and Seoul.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was also set to arrive in Seoul on Tuesday for talks with South Korean officials over bilateral relations and the freeze in nuclear diplomacy with North Korea.

Wang is scheduled to meet with South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong on Wednesday. Chung is expected seek a more active role from Beijing, Pyongyang's main ally and economic lifeline, in persuading the North to return to the negotiation table.

Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told a regular news conference earlier Tuesday that the trilateral meeting had been scheduled before North Korea's test-firing of the missiles, but the meeting the day after would be a "good occasion to reconfirm close cooperation among the three countries and discuss the latest North Korean situation."

Japanese officials and some experts said North Korea's weekend missile test-firing was a "new threat" to the region.

Japan and South Korea are separate key allies for the U.S. presence in the Asia-Pacific region.