Thu, Oct 19, 2006 - Page 1 News List

US holds talks amid fears of new nuke test in North Korea


US envoys yesterday worked in Seoul and Tokyo to coordinate a tough response to North Korea's nuclear test, even as satellite data indicated that Pyongyang, which has defiantly called sanctions a declaration of war, could be preparing for another test.

Stepping up a flurry of diplomatic activity aimed at getting Washington's allies behind the same message, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice yesterday met Japan's defense and foreign ministers. She is to meet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe today.

The US nuclear envoy, Assistant US Secretary of State Christopher Hill, was in Seoul, meanwhile, stressing that the international community should make the North pay a "high price" for its "reckless behavior."

Hill told reporters in Seoul he also wanted to talk to South Korean officials about satellite data indicating the North may be getting ready for a second nuclear test.

Japan's government had "information" about possible preparations for another blast, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso told reporters, without elaborating. But a senior South Korean official told foreign journalists that despite signs of a possible second test, it was unlikely that it would happen immediately.

Koreans in Japan opposed to Pyongyang's nuclear test yesterday tried to hand over a protest to the North Korean community, but their statement was literally thrown out the door.

Representatives of the Korean community in Japan loyal to Seoul went to the headquarters of Chongryon, the rival group that supports Pyongyang and which serves as the communist state's de facto embassy in Tokyo.

No one answered when the representatives knocked at the locked iron gate of the Chongryon compound, so the group slid an envelope with the statement under the gate. But the envelope was tossed over the gate three times, television footage showed.

also see stories:

N Korea defiant as Rice visits region

Despite non-nuclear policy, Japan is willing to debate

N Korea's nuclear test is bad for everyone

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