Moo-Hyun (L) and Koizumi agree
to resolve the nuclear problem
peacefully.

Both leaders agreed that North Korea’s nuclear ambitions constituted a serious threat that would not be tolerated.

 

They, however, urged a peaceful resolution of the problem.

 

“I pointed out (at the bilateral summit) that both dialogue and pressure are necessary for the diplomatic and peaceful solution of the nuclear stand-off," Koizumi said at a joint news conference.

 

“South Korea, the United States and Japan should cooperate closely and take a tougher measure if North Korea escalates the situation further,” he said.

 

Koizumi did not give further details on what sort of pressure his country would apply to ensure the removal of the North Korean nuclear threat.

 

Yet Moo-Hyun said dialogue and pressure should be applied in parallel. “But I told (Koizumi) that the South Korean government hopes to put more emphasis on dialogue”, he said.

 

A joint statement issued after the meeting did not mention the words “dialogue” or “pressure”. It did say, however, that both leaders had agreed to “enhance cooperation” between their countries to resolve the crisis.

 

The statement added that the North Korean nuclear issue was a “serious threat not only to the Korean peninsula but for the peace and stability of east Asia and the international nuclear non-proliferation system”.

 

The South Korean-Japanese summit came after the two Asian leaders individually met with US President George W Bush last month.

 

Moo-Hyun agreed with Bush on 14 May that if North Korea escalated the crisis, “further steps” might be taken.

 

A week later, Koizumi and Bush spoke of “tougher measures”.

 

Japan and South Korea are both within range of Pyongyang’s missiles. Yet, they have not considered military options as a means to remove North Korea's nuclear weapons.

 

The United States, however, has said it could not rule out the use of force.