Agence France Presse | 18 December 2004
Japan proposes FTA talks with South Korea in January
IBUSUKI, Japan: Japan’s Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura proposed Saturday Japan and South Korea hold talks on a free trade agreement (FTA) as early as January next year.
During a meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon in the southern Japanese resort of Ibusuki, Machimura said the two sides should resume the talks as Tokyo and Seoul aim to conclude an FTA by the end of 2005, Jiji Press said.
Their talks followed Friday’s summit in Ibusuki between Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun, who urged Tokyo to be cautious over imposing economic sanctions against North Korea.
Koizumi is under public pressure to punish the North over Pyongyang’s abductions of Japanese nationals during the Cold War.
The families of kidnapping victims were outraged after Japanese researchers concluded last week that Pyongyang lied to Tokyo by presenting the remains of other people in a bid to prove that two kidnap victims were dead.
Apart from the abduction issue, Koizumi and Roh agreed that six-nation talks aimed at halting North Korea’s nuclear weapons drive should resume at an early stage.
Since North Korea’s nuclear stand-off began in October 2002, three rounds of six-party talks — between the United States, China, the two Koreas, Japan and Russia — have taken place and ended without concrete results.
The North boycotted a fourth round scheduled for September.