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Japan's Kono to call for pressure on N. Korea at security confab

Foreign Minister Taro Kono (Mainichi)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono plans to call for international cooperation to apply greater pressure on North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions, when he attends an international security conference next month in Germany, a government source said Saturday.

    Kono is expected to deliver a speech to that effect at the Munich Security Conference to be held for three days from Feb. 16. Ministers and senior military personnel, mainly from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization member countries, will attend the meeting.

    Kono plans to stress in the speech that North Korea's nuclear armament should not be tolerated, given the North's largest and sixth nuclear test in September.

    He is expected to ask participating countries to fully carry out sanctions against North Korea based on U.N. Security Council's resolutions.

    "This would be an opportunity to deepen understanding that North Korea's nuclear development is a common threat to the world," the source said.

    When Kono's predecessor Fumio Kishida attended the Munich Security Conference in 2014, he stressed in his speech the importance of promoting cooperation among Japan, the United States and European nations to enhance maritime order based on the rule of law, in an apparent effort to put a brake on China's military assertiveness.

    Kono is expected to hold off on putting such pressure on China this time, as relations between Asia's two largest economies have recently been showing signs of a thaw after years of strain over territorial and history-related issues, the source said.

    The Munich Security Conference has been held in every February since 1962 in Munich, southern Germany, to discuss security issues. It has been attended by leaders and other high-ranking representatives of over 70 countries in the recent years.

    Last year, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov took part in the gathering among others.

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