The United States intends next week to separately discuss with Japan and South Korea appropriate measures for reacting to North Korea's December space rocket launch, the Korea Herald reported.
Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell is to lead a U.S. delegation in the bilateral talks in Seoul and Tokyo. There is also expected to be a meeting between the chief South Korean and Japanese negotiators to the frozen six-party process aimed at achieving permanent North Korean denuclearization.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in a Wednesday telephone conversation with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, urged "resolute Security Council action" in response to Pyongyang's space launch, which evidently violated the 15-nation body's prohibitions against North Korean use of ballistic missile technology.
Anticipated three-way talks beginning in January are intended to build coordination on foreign policy and defense matters between the second-term Obama administration and the newly elected Japanese and South Korean governments against a backdrop of continued North Korean nuclear weapons and missile development and China's increasingly aggressive maritime posture, the Japanese Yomiuri Shimbun reported.
South Korean President-elect Park Geun-hye on Thursday renewed her pledge to work to stop the North's atomic activities, though she did not rule out bilateral engagement with Pyongyang.
In a meeting with Park, a high-level Chinese diplomat shared his nation's skepticism on potential Security Council sanctions against North Korea in the wake of the December rocket launch. China's veto power on the council ensures that no new harsh measures will be passed without tacit Beijing support.