Moon, Abe agree to ‘extreme’ pressure on North Korea
President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have agreed that the international community needs to increase pressure on North Korea to an “extreme” level, following Tuesday’s ballistic missile test by Pyongyang, Cheong Wa Dae said Wednesday.
During a 25-minute phone conversation, the two leaders also agreed to seek stronger sanctions against Pyongyang at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
It was their fifth phone call since Moon’s May 10 inauguration, and came only five days after the previous one. Wednesday’s phone call was made at Abe’s request.
“Moon and Abe agreed that the pressure on North Korea should increase to an extreme level so that the North will come forward f or dialogue,” presidential spokesman Park Soo-hyun said.
Their conversation indicated the two countries and the international community will focus on new and stronger pressure and sanctions against Pyongyang for now, rather than seeking dialogue, as the latest test was grave enough to heighten tension on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia.
North Korea confirmed Wednesday that it launched a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) that flew over Japan.
The range of the missile, about 2,700 kilometers, also showed Pyongyang could strike the U.S. territory of Guam, about 3,000 kilometers away, as it had earlier threatened.
The North’s Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) said that leader Kim Jong-un supervised the launch and ordered his military to prepare more launches of missiles targeting the Pacific Ocean.
“Moon said the IRBM launch over Japan was violence against a neighboring country,” Park said.
The KCNA said the launch of the missile was to counter the Ulchi Freedom Guardian joint military exercise between the United States and South Korea.
Moon also told Abe that Seoul held a National Security Council meeting immediately after the missile launch and he ordered a show of force with four F-15k fighter jets carrying out live bombing drills.
The two leaders renewed the importance of cooperation among South Korea, Japan and the U.S. in addressing the North Korea issue.
“They evaluated that close cooperation among the three nations led to the UNSC’s swift call for a meeting and adoption of a statement on the first day of the meeting. They agreed to push for a new UNSC resolution imposing more detailed and effective sanctions against North Korea, and to make efforts to get cooperation from China and Russia on the issue,” Park said.
Moon also expressed sympathy and comfort for the fear and threat Japanese people may have felt following the missile test, according to Park.
“The two leaders pledged to contact each other immediately over urgent issues in the future to discuss joint countermeasures, and to have more talks about the North Korea issue when they attend the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia, in early September.”
The National Assembly will begin its first regular session since the inauguration of President Moon Jae-in, Friday.
Heated debates are expected over the government’s budget bill centered on boosting welfare benefits, North Korea’s nuclear and missile provocations and other hot-button issues during the 100-day session, which is scheduled to end December 12.
The session may provide a glimpse of the future political landscape because no single party has a majority in the 299-member Assembly.
The third-largest People’s Party with 40 seats, led by newly elected Chairman Ahn Cheol-soo, is likely to play a decisive role in disputed bills between the 120-seat ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) and the 107-seat main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP).
The regular session will include speeches by leaders of the four negotiating blocs from Sept. 4 to 7, an interpellation session from Sept. 11 to 14, and inspection of government offices from Oct. 12 to 31.
The ruling party plans to shed light on irregularities and corruptive practices of the previous Park Geun-hye government and take the cases as momentum for reform.
A Hwasong-12 intermediate range missile blasts off from a launch pad in Pyongyang, North Korea, Tuesday, in this photo released by the North’s official Korea Central News Agency, Wednesday.