South Korean, US and Japanese foreign ministers to meet
The Japanese and US top diplomats agreed Thursday to set up a meeting with their South Korean counterpart to coordinate their policies towards North Korea, news reports said.
Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara and US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton agreed to arrange the meeting for December in Washington, Japan's Kyodo News reported.
During their 15-minute phone conversation, Maehara and Clinton confirmed the need to enhance their cooperation in the wake of North Korea's attack on a South Korean island Tuesday, and its uranium enrichment programme, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said, DPA reported.
North Korea's artillery bombardment of Yeonpyeong Island, located near the two countries' maritime border, left two South Korean soldiers and two civilians dead and injured 18 people.
Pyongyang also revealed recently its large new uranium enrichment facility, which could signal a more significant nuclear programme than analysts had expected.
Maehara and Clinton both recognized the importance of China in defusing tension on the Korean Peninsula, given Beijing's strong influence over North Korea, the ministry said.
On Wednesday, Maehara met Chinese Ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua and told the ambassador that China "has a big role to play" as chair of the stalled six-party talks, which North Korea walked out of in April 2009.
The talks, which bring together Russia, Japan, the United States and China as well as the two Koreas, are aimed at ending Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programme.
China also wields influence in North Korea as a major provider of financial assistance to the impoverished country, Kyodo News reported.
The US is expected to hold high-level talks with China soon to ask Beijing to put pressure on Pyongyang to stop further provocative acts, a US official was quoted by Kyodo as saying.