January 7, 2003

The delegations of the United States of America, the Republic of Korea, and Japan, headed respectively by Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs James A. Kelly, Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Tae-Sik, and Director-General of Asian and Oceanian Affairs Mitoji Yabunaka, held this year's first Trilateral Coordination and Oversight Group (TCOG) meeting, in Washington, D.C., on January 7, 2003.

The three delegations called upon North Korea to eliminate its nuclear weapons program, which constitutes a violation of its international commitments. They reiterated their intention to pursue a peaceful and diplomatic resolution of the issue. They stressed that North Korea's relations with the entire international community hinge on its taking prompt and verifiable action to completely dismantle its nuclear weapons program and come into full compliance with its international nuclear commitments.

The three delegations expressed serious concern over the recent steps taken by North Korea to lift its nuclear freeze and called upon North Korea to undo these measures and not take any precipitous action. The three delegations expressed strong support for the resolution adopted on January 6 by the IAEA Board of Governors, which calls upon North Korea to cooperate urgently and fully with the IAEA to comply with its Safeguards Agreement under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. They noted that the unanimous passage of the resolution underscores the broad international consensus that the North Korean actions are unacceptable.

The three delegations stressed that there is no security rationale for North Korea to possess nuclear weapons. The U.S. delegation reiterated President Bush's statement that the United States poses no threat and has no intention of invading North Korea. ROK and Japanese delegations renewed their strong welcome for the statement. The three delegations reaffirmed the importance of implementation of the Basic Agreement between South and North Korea on Reconciliation, Nonaggression, and Exchanges and Cooperation and the Joint South-North Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, both of which are premised on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Reiterating that North Korea's relations with the international community depend on its verifiably ending its nuclear weapons program, the three delegations expressed their continued support for South-North dialogue and Japan-North Korea dialogue, based on the June 2000 Joint South-North Declaration and the Pyongyang Declaration, respectively. Such dialogues serve as important channels to resolve issues of bilateral concern and to call upon North Korea to quickly and visibly respond to the international community's demands for a denuclearized Korean Peninsula, thereby contributing to regional peace and stability. The U.S. delegation explained that the United States is willing to talk to North Korea about how it will meet its obligations to the international community. However, the U.S. delegation stressed that the United States will not provide quid pro quos to North Korea to live up to its existing obligations.

The three delegations stressed that elimination of nuclear weapons programs by North Korea would provide an opportunity to return to a better path leading toward improved relations with the international community, thereby securing peace, prosperity, and security for all the countries of Northeast Asia.

Finally, the three delegations reaffirmed that continued close consultations and coordination among the three countries remain vital in addressing this very serious issue. They agreed to hold the next round of trilateral consultations in the near future to further coordinate their respective policies toward North Korea.

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