(LEAD) Korea Republic , United States and Japan to discuss Korea DPR next week

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SEOUL, May 22 (Yonhap) — Chief nuclear envoys of South Korea, the United States and Japan will convene here next week on ways to dissuade North Korea from developing nuclear weapons, the Foreign Ministry said Friday.

In the two-day session starting Tuesday in Seoul, the regional powers will “share assessments of recent situations in North Korea and its threats,” the ministry said in a statement.

“(The three nations) will also have in-depth consultations on various ways for substantive progress in dealing with the North Korean nuclear issue in terms of deterrence, pressure and dialogue,” the statement said.

South Korea will be represented by Hwang Joon-kook, special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs. His U.S. and Japanese counterparts will be Sung Kim, special representative for North Korea policy, and Junichi Ihara, director-general of the Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, respectively.

They serve as top delegates to the now-suspended six-way talks on Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program. The negotiations, also involving China and Russia, were last held in December 2008.

It would be their first gathering since they met in Tokyo in January.

The envoys are scheduled to have a working dinner on Tuesday, followed by a formal discussion session the next day.

The North has refused to return to the talks, as it continues to develop its nuclear and missile capabilities.

It recently announced a successful test-launch of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) and also claimed to have mastered the technology to put nuclear warheads onto missiles.

The reclusive nation’s leader, Kim Jong-un, reportedly purged the defense minister, Hyon Yong-chol, further raising doubts about his leadership.

Seoul, Washington and Tokyo are seeking U.N.-level measures against Pyongyang’s SLBM test, saying it is in violation of U.N. resolutions banning it from carrying out any launch using ballistic missile technology.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, on his trip here earlier this week, called for more international pressure on the North.

South Korean officials agreed to the need for getting tougher on the North.

“In general, there is a need to change the situation by strengthening pressure and dialogue efforts,” a ministry official said on the condition of anonymity.

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