S. Korea, US, Japan to hold post-Kim talks next week

SEOUL, January 12, 2012 (AFP) - South Korea, the United States and Japan will hold joint talks next week for the first time since the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il last month, an official in Seoul said on Thursday.

The Tuesday meeting in Washington draws together South Korea's chief nuclear envoy Lim Sung-Nam, Japanese counterpart Shinsuke Sugiyama and Kurt Campbell, the US top diplomat on Asia, a Seoul foreign ministry official said.

"The talks are aimed at exchanging views on the situation on the (Korean) peninsula after the death of Kim Jong-Il and having consultations on ways to move forward the six-party talks," the official said on condition of anonymity.

The multilateral nuclear talks, which involve North Korea, South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the United States, have been on hold since late 2008 when Pyongyang walked out.

Lim and Sugiyama held talks in Seoul on Thursday to discuss the North Korean nuclear issue and the situation in the country.

The US and North Korea last year held two rounds of talks aimed at restarting the six-party negotiations.

A third round was reportedly scheduled in Beijing before the announcement of Kim's death put the process on hold.

On Wednesday, North Korea said the United States had offered food aid and a suspension of sanctions if it halted its uranium enrichment programme.

Before Kim's death on December 17, there were several media reports that such an agreement was imminent.