Thursday, May 24, 2007

Japan, Philippines Agree To Push North Korea Toward Denuclearization

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and visiting Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo affirmed joint efforts to press North Korea to quickly implement the initial denuclearization steps as it agreed at the six-party nuclear talks in February. Arroyo told Abe that the Philippine government supports Japan's stance on North Korea, expressing hope to host a ministerial meeting among six parties on the sidelines of a regional forum in August, according to Abe's spokesman Hiroshige Seko. All six nations involved in the talks aimed at dismantling North Korea's nuclear program -- the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the US -- will participate in the upcoming the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum.
Philippine's President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (L) shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
In response, Abe said Japan will consider the idea and asked for continued support from the Philippines in pushing Pyongyang toward denuclearization. As for economic cooperation, Abe told Arroyo that Tokyo is planning to resume grant aid to the Philippines to improve security conditions and natural disaster alleviation projects, Seko told reporters. "Japan is expected to extend grants to help the Philippines deal with natural disasters like typhoons and earthquakes," Abe was quoted as telling Arroyo. The timing of the grants and the amount are still under consideration. Arroyo arrived in Tokyo on Tuesday on a four-day trip.