Japan to toughen sanctions against North Korea
Japan is pushing for a "strong" statement on the North Korean rocket launch at a summit of Asian leaders this weekend. China said on Wednesday it did not want to discuss North Korea's rocket launch at the meeting.
AFP - Japan is pushing for a "strong" statement on the North Korean rocket launch at a summit of Asian leaders this weekend, a diplomatic source said Friday.
The diplomat, who asked not to be named, told AFP that Japan had proposed a text of the statement to Thailand, which is hosting this year's summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) with its allies.
South Korea supported the Japanese initiative but the North Korean embassy in Bangkok signalled its opposition to any statement on the April 5 rocket launch, the source said.
"We have to see how China will react," said the diplomat, noting however that Beijing had defended North Korea's right to peaceful use of space and refused to condemn its ally.
China has also said that the United Nations should not overreact and that the most pressing concern was to restart stalled nuclear disarmament talks with the communist North.
"It's up to Thailand now to include a statement (on North Korea)," said the source, who is involved in preparatory meetings for the summit.
"But if it is a consensus, it won't be the Japanese (version of the) statement (that will be released)."
Leaders of ASEAN's 10 member states are meeting with their counterparts from China, Japan and South Korea as well as Australia, India and New Zealand over the weekend at the Thai resort town of Pattaya.
The talks are expected to centre on how they will haul the region out of the global financial downturn.
China said on Wednesday it did not want to discuss North Korea's rocket launch at the meeting.
North Korea maintains that Sunday's launch put a satellite into orbit, but the United States and its allies say nothing made it into space and the real purpose was to test the delivery vehicle, a long-range Taepodong-2 missile.
Washington and Tokyo are pushing for the UN Security Council to react strongly to the launch, saying it violated UN resolutions passed after Pyongyang's 2006 nuclear and missile tests.
Japan on Friday decided to tighten a watch on money flows to North Korea in a bid to punish the regime for the rocket launch and extended by a year existing sanctions, a top official said.
However, China and Russia are aiming for a more muted response.
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