PM’s office denies Japanese news report about six-party talks

SEOUL, The office of Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon denied a Japanese newspaper report Wednesday that the six-nation forum on North Korea's nuclear issue should discuss economic aid to the communist nation if Pyongyang agrees to denuclearization.

The Yomiuri newspaper cited Taku Yamasaki, a former vice president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, as saying during a lecture in Tokyo on Tuesday that Lee made the remark when they met during his visit to South Korea on May 2.

According to the paper, Yamasaki also quoted Lee as saying that a summit between the North and Japan should take place to reconfirm the Pyongyang Declaration reached between the two countries in 2000 after their first summit.

But Lee's office denied the report.

"Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon didn't make the remarks reported in the article when he met former (LDP) vice president Yamasaki on May 2," Lee's spokesman, Kim Sung-jae, said in an email to reporters.

Kim expressed deep regret that Yamasaki talked about things that Lee didn't say and that he disclosed the meeting with Lee even though it was agreed to on the condition that it wouldn't be made public.

Six-party talks involve the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States. The on-again, off-again talks were launched in 2003 to convince Pyongyang to give up its pursuit of nuclear weapons in exchange for economic and diplomatic concessions.

The talks produced some breakthrough deals, including a 2005 disarmament-for-aid agreement, but all of them ultimately fell apart as North Korea backtracked on its denuclearization commitments. The talks have been suspended since the last session in late 2008.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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