Tokyo (Agencies): Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara and his South Korean counterpart Kim Sung Hwan agreed that the two countries will work toward reviving negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement, which have been stalled since 2004, and continue to cooperate in seeking North Korea's "concrete actions" for denuclearisation.

Maehara and Kim, who met in Tokyo for their fourth official dialogue on Wednesday, told a joint press conference that they shared the view that progress should be made first in inter-Korean dialogue before the six-party talks and other bilateral meetings are held to urge the North to abandon its nuclear programs.

Acknowledging that working-level preliminary military talks between Seoul and Pyongyang ended without agreement last week, Kim said South Korea is ready to talk with North Korea if it comes back to the negotiating table.

The preliminary talks were the first bilateral dialogue since North Korea's deadly shelling of a South Korean border island in November. The two sides failed to even set a date for the next round of talks.

Maehara and Kim also said they agreed that the North's uranium enrichment program revealed last November should be taken up at the UN Security Council.

The six-party talks aimed at denuclearizing the North involve the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States. They have been stalled since December 2008.

On FTA talks, the two countries agreed to hold the second round of director-general level talks in April to prepare for the restart of negotiations that have been deadlocked due to differences over potential tariff cuts on farm and industrial products.

Japan and South Korea held the first director-general level talks last September under a strong political initiative to reopen the FTA negotiations. The bilateral FTA talks were launched in December 2003 but have been suspended since November 2004.

South Korean manufacturers are wary of a further increase in auto and electronic component imports from Japan, while the heavily protected Japanese agricultural sector is concerned about cheaper farm imports from South Korea.

Maehara, meanwhile, explained to Kim Japan's basic position on a territorial dispute with Russia over four Russian-held islands off Hokkaido, which are claimed by Japan, a Japanese official said.

Moscow has been calling for investment by countries such as South Korea and China in projects to develop the disputed islands, but Tokyo opposes such business activities by third countries as they would bolster Russia's control of the islands and complicate the issue.

Satellite imagery of N Korean launch site


Voice of America reported from Seoul that satellite imagery shows North Korea has completed a launch tower at its second missile launch facility, in the country's northwest.

VOA said on its website that the satellite images taken during the past month reveal a completed launch umbilical tower at the facility, near Tongchang-dong.

It said intelligence analysts in the United States and South Korea are keeping a close eye on the facility, which is seen as a critical element in North Korea's quest to build a missile capable of delivering a nuclear weapon across the Pacific.