Pom­peo seeks al­lied unity in deal­ing with North Korea

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - NEWS - BY MARI YAMAGUCHI As­so­ci­ated Press

Amer­ica’s top di­plo­mat left Tokyo for Py­ongyang on Sun­day af­ter pledg­ing that the U.S. will co­or­di­nate with al­lies Ja­pan and South Korea on ef­forts to per­suade North Korea to give up its nu­clear weapons.

On the eve of his fourth visit to North Korea, U.S. Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo met Sat­ur­day with Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe to try to unify the coun­tries’ po­si­tions as he looks to ar­range a sec­ond sum­mit be­tween Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and chart a path to­ward de­nu­cle­ariza­tion.

Ja­pan has been wary of Trump’s ini­tia­tive, fear­ing it could af­fect its long-stand­ing se­cu­rity re­la­tion­ship with the U.S.

Pom­peo said it was im­por­tant to hear from the Ja­panese leader “so we have a fully co­or­di­nated and uni­fied view.” Pom­peo also pledged that dur­ing his meet­ing with Kim on Sun­day, he would raise the cases of Ja­panese cit­i­zens ab­ducted by North Korea.

Pom­peo later planned stops in South Korea and China to re­view the ne­go­ti­a­tions.

“It is im­por­tant for us to hear from you as I travel to Py­ongyang to make sure that we are fully in sync with re­spect to mis­sile pro­grams, (chem­i­cal and bi­o­log­i­cal weapons) pro­grams,” Pom­peo told Abe. “We will bring up the is­sue of the ab­ductees as well and then we will share with you how we hope to pro­ceed when we are in Py­ongyang to­mor­row.”

Trump is press­ing to meet with Kim for a sec­ond time af­ter their June sum­mit in Sin­ga­pore pro­duced a vague agree­ment on de­nu­cle­ariza­tion with few, if any, specifics. De­spite the his­toric meet­ing, the two sides are dead­locked over how to achieve that goal. Trump can­celed Pom­peo’s ini­tial planned re­turn to North Korea last month.

In con­trast with South Korea, where Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in has been at the fore­front of en­cour­ag­ing Trump’s rap­proche­ment with the North, Ja­pan has been de­cid­edly cau­tious, in­sist­ing its in­ter­ests and con­cerns be ad­dressed.

Abe did not speak of dif­fer­ences but high­lighted the im­por­tance of demon­strat­ing to the world that the U.S.Ja­pan al­liance is “more ro­bust than ever” and stress­ing the im­por­tance of “thor­ough co­or­di­na­tion” with Wash­ing­ton on all as­pects of North Korea pol­icy.

Pom­peo has re­peat­edly re­fused to dis­cuss de­tails of ne­go­ti­a­tions, in­clud­ing a U.S. po­si­tion on North Korea’s de­mand for a de­clared end to the Korean War and a pro­posal from Seoul for such a dec­la­ra­tion to be ac­com­pa­nied by a shut­down of the North’s main known nu­clear fa­cil­ity.

[AP PHOTO]

U.S. Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo, left, and Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe, right, speak Sat­ur­day dur­ing a meet­ing at Abe’s of­fice in Tokyo.

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