KYOTO, Japan – Japan might bring the issue of North Korea's nuclear weapons program (search) before the U.N. Security Council as early as next month unless six-nation talks on the dispute begin showing progress, officials said Friday.
Nobutaka Machimura met with South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon on the sidelines of the Asia-Europe Meeting in Kyoto, Japan, and they agreed to push for a resumption of the stalled multilateral talks.
But Machimura said Tokyo was thinking about what to do if North Korea (search) continues to boycott those talks.
"If there is no progress, we have to think of other options, such as taking this matter to the United Nations Security Council," Machimura told reporters after the meeting.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hatsuhisa Takashima said the ministers indicated such steps might be taken in June, which will mark one year since the last six-party talks took place. Another option under consideration is five-party talks without North Korea, he said.
North Korea fiercely opposes bringing its case to the Security Council (search), which would be a first step in pushing for sanctions against the reclusive communist regime. Pyongyang has said in the past that it would consider sanctions a "declaration of war."
Machimura said that South Korea "did not exactly agree" with taking Pyongyang to the U.N.
He also said there would be a summit between Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun in late June. The date and location have yet to be decided, Machimura said.
Relations between Japan and South Korea have been troubled in recent months by a territorial dispute over islands in the Sea of Japan. The islets are held by Seoul but claimed by Tokyo.
Machimura said that the two nations are still at odds over the islands — known in Japan as Takeshima and in South Korea as Dokdo — but that he and Ban agreed to work toward a solution.
South Korea has also protested Japanese history textbooks that critics say whitewash Japan's wartime atrocities in Asia.