TILLERSON CALLS FOR NEW APPROACH TO NORTH KOREA
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.