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Japanese FM doubtful on restarting N Korea talks

Taro Aso indicated Japan wanted to see what proposals North Korea may offer

india Updated: Apr 07, 2006 08:26 IST

Japan's foreign minister voiced doubts on Friday about an early resumption of talks on ending North Korea's nuclear drive as chief negotiators in the stalled dialogue headed to Tokyo for a private forum.

"All the players will be here but it does not immediately lead to six-way talks," Foreign Minister Taro Aso told reporters.

Aso indicated Japan wanted to see what proposals North Korea may offer, saying: "We would not be able to move ahead unless we find out what's in their bag."

Kim Gye-Gwan, North Korea's chief negotiator to the talks, was expected in Japan later Friday on a rare visit. The countries have no diplomatic relations.

Kim and his counterparts from the five other countries will be in Tokyo during a private security forum next week and are expected to meet one another on the sidelines.

"The United States must be clearly aware of our demands," Kim said on his departure from Beijing, as quoted by Jiji Press.

The Tokyo forum, organised by the University of California's Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, brings together government officials and academics from the six nations -- China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, South Korea and the United States.

It will be the first gathering of officials from the countries since talks aimed at dismantling the North's nuclear program bogged down in November after Washington accused Pyongyang of counterfeiting US dollars and laundering money.

The North has denied the charge and demanded the United States lift financial sanctions before it returns to the talks.

In another diplomatic push, South Korea on Friday proposed new inter-Korean dialogue on April 21-24. Pyongyang called off the ministerial talks, originally set for last month, in protest at South Korean-US military exercises.