Regional powers discuss post-launch steps
WASHINGTON (Yonhap) -- The United States and Japan agreed Tuesday to take "appropriate action" against North Korea if it presses ahead with a ballistic rocket launch.
"We will be pursuing appropriate action," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters after bilateral talks with her Japanese counterpart, Koichiro Gemba, who is visiting for a G-8 foreign ministerial meeting. She did not elaborate.
Clinton underscored that if North Korea wants a "peaceful, better future" for its people, it should not conduct the launch, expected as early as Thursday.
She said the U.S. is consulting with other nations in their capitals and at the United Nations, hinting at action through the Security Council.
The Japanese foreign minister also said he and Clinton discussed "in full detail" what they would do about an actual launch, which is seen as a cover to test an intercontinental ballistic missile. The North claims it is intended to send a satellite into orbit.
The launch will "harm a path toward resumed dialogues that the United States made," Gemba said.
Their remarks came after reports that the North is all set for lift-off at its new launch pad near the border with China.
The North announced that it would fire off a long-range rocket between April 12 and 16, apparently to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of founding leader Kim Il-sung, grandfather of the current leader, Kim Jong-un.
In a press briefing, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the U.S. will work with partners on "next steps." The other members of the six-way talks on North Korea are South Korea, China, Russia and Japan.
Meanwhile, Glyn Davies, special representative for North Korea policy, said all the regional powers are unified in telling North Korea to forgo a launch.
"For now, the message is unified among certainly the five parties, and beyond that their intention to launch will be a very destabilizing act and provocative," he told Yonhap News Agency.
He spoke after a forum here on the North's notorious concentration camps for political prisoners.
The veteran diplomat also dismissed criticism on the Feb. 29 deal with North Korea.
"There are always critics. We don't make policy based on what critics say," Davies said.
In talks in Beijing, Davies and North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan agreed to a set of initial steps towards the resumption of the six-way talks aimed at denuclearizing the communist nation.
The U.S. promised to ship 240,000 tons of food aid in return for the North's moratorium on missile launches and some nuclear activities.
U.S. officials were caught off guard by the North's announcement two weeks later of a space launch.