Pom­peo seeks unity among al­lies

U.S. co­or­di­nates with Ja­pan ahead of next visit to North Korea

Albany Times Union - Sunday - - NATION / WORLD - By Mari Ya­m­aguchi As­so­ci­ated Press

Amer­ica’s top diplo­mat said Satur­day the U.S. will co­or­di­nate with al­lies Ja­pan and South Korea on ef­forts to per­suade North Korea to give up its nu­clear weapons.

U.S. Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo met with Ja­panese

Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on the eve of the Amer­i­can’s fourth visit to North Korea. Pom­peo was look­ing 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.

The U.S. and Ja­pan have pushed for the North to com­pile and turn over a de­tailed list of its nu­clear sites to be dis­man­tled as a next step in the process; the North has re­jected that.

Ja­pan’s for­eign min­is­ter,

Taro Kano, said the ac­count­ing con­tin­ues to be a pri­or­ity for his coun­try.

“Dis­clos­ing all nu­clear in­ven­to­ries is the first step to­ward de­nu­cle­ariza­tion,” he told reporters af­ter Pom­peo wrapped up his meet­ing in Tokyo.

Kono also said he and Pom­peo didn’t go into de­tails of a pos­si­ble war-end dec­la­ra­tion be­cause it’s pre­ma­ture while there is vir­tu­ally no progress in de­nu­cle­ariza­tion. “We are not even talk­ing about whether to do it or not,” he said. “It’s not an is­sue that we are even con­sid­er­ing.”

Many be­lieve such a dec­la­ra­tion could re­in­force North Korea’s de­mands for the U.S. to with­draw its forces from South Korea and Ja­pan.

While trav­el­ing to Asia, Pom­peo said his mis­sion was to “make sure that we un­der­stand what each side is truly try­ing to achieve ... and how we can de­liver against the com­mit­ments that were made” in Sin­ga­pore. He said they would de­velop op­tions, if not finalize, the lo­ca­tion and tim­ing of a sec­ond Trump-kim sum­mit.

He has also dis­tanced him­self from an ear­lier stated goal of achiev­ing North Korea’s nu­clear weapons aban­don­ment by the end of Trump’s term in Jan­uary 2021.

Since the ef­fort got un­der­way with a se­cret visit to the North by then-cia chief Pom­peo in April, there has been only lim­ited progress.

Pool photo via As­so­ci­ated Press

U.S. Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo, cen­ter, shakes hands with Ja­pan’s For­eign Min­is­ter Taro Kono be­fore a meet­ing in Tokyo Satur­day.

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