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Japan foreign minister set to discuss N. Korea with G-8 colleagues


Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida will seek to build consensus with his Group of Eight counterparts on urging North Korea to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula and comply with U.N. resolutions banning its nuclear and missile tests during their meeting this week in London.

The two-day G-8 meeting of foreign ministers from Wednesday comes as the United States and European countries have focused their attention on North Korea, with Pyongyang making almost daily headlines with its war-like rhetoric and apparent preparations for a fourth nuclear test.

Kishida left for the Netherlands, the first leg of his trip, Monday morning. "I intend to build close relations with foreign ministers from (other G-8) countries by communicating well with them on regional issues, such as North Korea and Iran," Kishida told reporters on Friday.

With its Foreign Secretary William Hague serving as chairman at the gathering, host Britain hopes to discuss North Korea, Syria, Iran and Somalia, as well as ways to prevent sexual violence in conflicts, a cause personally spearheaded by Hague.

The participants will also discuss security in cyberspace, responsible international investment in Myanmar and continuing support for democratic transition in the Middle East and North Africa following the Arab Spring.

Kishida hopes to confirm with his G-8 colleagues the importance of implementing expanded U.N. sanctions against North Korea and plans to send a strong message to North Korea to extract concrete actions from the country for resolving the nuclear standoff, according to Japanese officials.

Kishida also hopes to reaffirm G-8 support for democratic reforms in Myanmar and a common call for Iran to take concrete action for resolving its nuclear issue peacefully, while exchanging views with other participants on peace efforts in war-ravaged Syria.

With Tokyo hosting a summit-level international conference on African development in June, he also aims to discuss the situation in Mali as well as counterterrorism efforts in light of the Algerian hostage crisis in January, in which many foreigners died, including 10 Japanese.

On the sidelines, Kishida plans to meet with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov to discuss a territorial dispute between Japan and Russia. He is also scheduled to hold talks with Hague on the fringes of the G-8 meeting.

Before heading to London, the Japanese foreign minister will attend a ministerial meeting of 10 nonnuclear countries concerning nonproliferation and disarmament in The Hague on Tuesday.