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S.Korea, Japan, China to hold N.Korea discussions

world Updated: May 15, 2010 10:01 IST

Foreign ministers from South Korea, China and Japan will hold talks Saturday, a Japanese diplomat said, reportedly to discuss North Korea's nuclear drive and the recent sinking of a South Korean warship.

South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-Hwan will meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and Japanese counterpart Katsuya Okada late Saturday in the southern city of Gyeongju, the diplomat told AFP on Saturday.

The three-way talks, a fourth in their series, come amid heightened tension over the sinking of a South Korean warship near the disputed border with North Korea in the Yellow Sea.

The investigation into the sinking, which killed 46 South Korean sailors, is due to report next week.

Seoul has vowed to respond resolutely if the North, which has denied responsibility, is proved to have sunk the Cheonan.

"The Cheonan incident will naturally be addressed (by the foreign ministers) when they discuss regional security conditions," an unidentified South Korean foreign ministry official was quoted as saying Friday by Yonhap news agency.

The South Korean foreign minister will also hold one-on-one talks with Yang on Saturday and Okada on Sunday. Yang and Okada will meet Saturday for their own bilateral talks.

Seoul says the resumption of six-party talks on disarming North Korea should wait until South Korea wraps up the probe into the sinking and decide on how to respond.

Officials have said Seoul would try to report Pyongyang to the United Nations Security Council for possible further sanctions.

Another major issue for discussion by the ministers is the upcoming summit of the countries' leaders likely to take place in South Korea later in the month, South Korean foreign ministry officials said.