Pom­peo re­as­sures Ja­pan en route to meet Kim

The Progress-Index Weekend - - NEWS - By Si­mon Denyer The Wash­ing­ton Post

TOKYO — Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo met Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe on Sat­ur­day and re­as­sured him Ja­pan’s in­ter­ests would not be for­got­ten as he heads to Py­ongyang to con­tinue talks over North Korea’s nu­clear and mis­sile pro­gram.

Pom­peo is ex­pected to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Py­ongyang, as he tries to set the stage for an­other sum­mit be­tween Kim and Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. His Tokyo stop was de­signed to re­as­sure the United States’ most im­por­tant ally in Asia that its in­ter­ests would not be for­got­ten in ne­go­ti­a­tions with Kim.

Ja­panese for­eign pol­icy ex­perts worry that Wash­ing­ton could cut a deal with Py­ongyang that lim­its its in­ter-con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile pro­gram but leaves North Korea with shorter-range mis­siles that could strike Tokyo. The Ja­panese gov­ern­ment is also de­mand­ing Py­ongyang come clean about the fate of Ja­panese cit­i­zens who were ab­ducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s, an is­sue that in­cites con­sid­er­able con­cern among the Ja­panese pub­lic.

In a meet­ing with Abe, Pom­peo said Ja­pan’s con­cerns would be ad­dressed, and said he wanted to make sure the two coun­tries were “fully in sync” with re­gard to mis­sile pro­grams, as well as chem­i­cal and bi­o­log­i­cal weapons.

“We will bring up the is­sue of the ab­ductees as well,” he said. “And then we will share with you how we hope to pro­ceed when we are in Py­ongyang to­mor­row. So we will have a fully co­or­di­nated, uni­fied view of how to pro­ceed which will be what is needed if we are go­ing to be suc­cess­ful on de­nu­cle­ariz­ing North Korea.”

Abe said he ap­pre­ci­ated the fact that Pom­peo had come to Ja­pan be­fore go­ing to Py­ongyang, where he is due to meet Kim Jong Un on Sun­day for talks on North Korea’s nu­clear pro­gram.

Speak­ing on the plane on his way to a re­fu­el­ing stop in Alaska, Pom­peo said his mis­sion was “to make sure that we un­der­stand what each side is truly try­ing to achieve” and how “each side is seek­ing to ap­proach that, and how we can de­liver against the com­mit­ments that were made.”

“Each side has to de­velop suf­fi­cient trust so they can take the ac­tions nec­es­sary to get to the end,” he said, adding he was also try­ing to set up the next Trump-Kim sum­mit.

“So we hope to, at least — I doubt we will get it nailed — but be­gin to de­velop op­tions for both lo­ca­tion and tim­ing for when Chair­man Kim will meet with the pres­i­dent again,” he said. “Maybe we will get fur­ther than that.”

Af­ter a sum­mit be­tween the lead­ers of the two Koreas last month, Kim said he was pre­pared to per­ma­nently dis­man­tle his coun­try’s main nu­clear site at Yong­byon, but only if the United States took “cor­re­spond­ing steps” to build trust.

At the time, it ap­peared that meant a dec­la­ra­tion to for­mally end the 195053 Korean War, as a sig­nal that hos­til­i­ties be­tween the two coun­tries were over. But dur­ing the past few days, Py­ongyang ap­pears to have in­creased its de­mands, sig­nal­ing that it may also want an eas­ing of sanc­tions be­fore mov­ing for­ward.

Pom­peo has said that sanc­tions will be lifted only af­ter North Korea fully and ver­i­fi­ably dis­man­tles its nu­clear weapons pro­gram.

Wash­ing­ton is be­lieved to have asked North Korea to sup­ply a list of its nu­clear and mis­sile fa­cil­i­ties as a next step, but South Korea’s gov­ern­ment says the North is not pre­pared to meet this de­mand.


Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo.

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