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Bush eyes taking North Korea off terror list

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Demetri Sevastopulo
Financial Times
Saturday, Oct 11, 2008

George W. Bush, US president, was on Friday considering a recommendation from his senior officials to remove North Korea from the US terrorism list in spite of Japanese concerns.

The US is considering taking North Korea off the terrorism list after reaching a deal with Pyongyang last week on a mechanism to verify the contents of a nuclear declaration that North Korea provided earlier this year. While the other members of the six-party talks – China, South Korea – have backed the agreement, Japan has expressed reservations.

Taro Aso, the Japanese prime minister, believes the verification deal is weak, according to a person familiar with the matter. While Washington does not need Japanese approval, consent from Tokyo would help US officials persuade Mr Bush to approve the deal.

(Article continues below)

A 40-minute phone call between Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of state, and Hirofumi Nakasone, the Japanese foreign minister, failed to assuage the Japanese concerns. The person said both capitals were in close contact but added that Tokyo did not expect Mr Bush to delist North Korea on Friday.

Mr Aso is concerned that North Korea will not live up to commitments to resolve a longstanding dispute over Japanese citizens who were abducted by North Korean spies in the 1970s and 1980s, a sensitive issue in Japan.

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A US official stressed that while Japan may have reservations about the deal, Tokyo was unlikely to abandon the six-party process as a result.

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This article was posted: Saturday, October 11, 2008 at 4:18 am

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