New Straits Times - - News -

TOKYO: Two decades of diplo­macy aimed at curb­ing North Korea’s nu­clear am­bi­tions have failed and a new ap­proach is needed, the United States’ top en­voy said yesterday.

Dur­ing a visit to Ja­pan at the start of an Asian tour, Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son said China needed to play its part in rein­ing in its er­rant neigh­bour.

In his first ma­jor foray into cri­sis diplo­macy, the new US en­voy was look­ing to re­as­sure key Asian al­lies that Wash­ing­ton stands with them in the face of the ac­cel­er­at­ing nu­clear and mis­sile threats from Py­ongyang.

But, he warned that past poli­cies and pun­ish­ments have had vir­tu­ally no ef­fect on the North’s am­bi­tions.

“It’s im­por­tant to recog­nise that the diplo­matic and other ef­forts of the past 20 years to bring North Korea to a point of de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion have failed.”

Tiller­son said this at a press con­fer­ence with Ja­pan’s For­eign Min­is­ter, Fu­mio Kishida.

“In the face of the ever es­ca­lat­ing threat, it is clear that a new ap­proach is re­quired.”

He said that the US would con­tinue to work closely with Ja­pan and South Korea in coun­ter­ing the threat, but also ex­tended an olive branch to the coun­try’s peo­ple.

“The North and its peo­ple need not fear the US or their neigh­bours, who only seek to live in peace with them,” Tiller­son said, adding that crit­i­cism was aimed at the regime in Py­ongyang.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump had caused con­ster­na­tion dur­ing his White House cam­paign by sug­gest­ing US al­lies, Ja­pan and South Korea, needed to do more to de­fend them­selves, but had been care­ful to of­fer com­plete sup­port since tak­ing of­fice.

Tiller­son re­it­er­ated that mes­sage, say­ing: “The US-Ja­pan al­liance re­mains the cor­ner­stone of peace and sta­bil­ity in the Asia- Pa­cific re­gion.”

He had a meet­ing with Kishida be­fore he held talks with Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe.

But, he stressed the im­por­tance of a three-way co­op­er­a­tion with South Korea, call­ing it “crit­i­cal, in par­tic­u­lar, as we ad­dress North Korea’s nu­clear and bal­lis­tic mis­siles pro­grammes”. Reuters


United States Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son (left) with Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe in Tokyo yesterday.

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