Park, Abe agree to work together for strong sanctions on N. Korea

January 7, 2016

SEOUL (Yonhap) — President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed Thursday to closely cooperate for the swift adoption of a U.N. resolution for strong sanctions on North Korea over its claimed hydrogen bomb test, Cheong Wa Dae said.

The two leaders also reached a consensus that South Korea and Japan should work together with the U.S., China and Russia to deal with the North Korean nuclear issue, the presidential office said.

The five countries have been involved in the long-stalled six-nation talks aimed at ending North Korea’s nuclear weapons program in return for political concessions and economic aid. The nuclear talks were last held in 2008.

The U.S., China and Russia are three of the veto-wielding five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. The two other members are Britain and France.

The U.N. Security Council held an emergency session on Wednesday and agreed to immediately start work on a new sanctions resolution against North Korea. The council “strongly condemns” Pyongyang’s latest nuclear test.

North Korea has already been under U.N. sanctions for its three previous nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013.

The telephone conversation came a day after North Korea claimed it has succeeded in conducting a hydrogen bomb test.

Also Thursday, Park called for a faithful implementation of a landmark deal meant to resolve the issue of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery of Korean women — one of the thorniest diplomatic issues between the two neighbors.

Park said South Korea and Japan should ensure that media reports running counter to the principle of the deal would not hurt the hearts of elderly South Korean women who were forced to serve as sex slaves for Japanese soldiers during World War II.

The deal centered on Japan’s admission of responsibility for the wartime crime and plans to pay reparations to the former Korean sex slaves.

Under the deal, Japan agreed to offer 1 billion yen (US$8.3 million) in reparations to the victims through a fund to be created by the South Korean government.

U.S. President Barack Obama congratulated Park on the deal in a telephone conversation earlier in the day, and “commended two of our most important allies for having the courage and vision to forge a lasting settlement to this difficult issue,” the White House said.