WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump and the South Korean President, Moon Jae-in, who are both planning to meet North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Un, and this spring, promised Friday to hold on to the maximum pressure on his authoritarian regime and seek action on the issue of nuclear weapons, the White House said.
In a telephone conversation with the Moon, the Trump repeated his intention to meet Kim at the end of May. According to a statement from the White House, the allied leaders “agreed that concrete actions, not words, will be the key to achieving the permanent denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” They have also agreed that a better future is available for North Korea, if it chooses the right path,” the White House declared.
The moon is due to meet Kim in April, a prelude to what would be first US-North korea summit in a period of seven decades of hostility since the 1950-53 Korean War. The preparations for the Trump card-Kim summit, which was announced out of the blue the last week, always a challenge. Now, they are thrown an early curve ball with the Secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, is abruptly fired by Trump on Tuesday.
North Korea has yet to publicly confirm the top of the schedule and the venue for the meeting remains in the air, although a rare visit by the North’s top diplomat to Sweden on Friday fuelled speculation the Scandinavian country could play host.
On Friday, the U.S. official left in the charge of the State Department after Tillerson’s departure with a delicate diplomatic mission: to keep America’s main Asian allies on the same page about the scope of Kim.
Deputy Secretary John Sullivan meeting separately with the Minister of Foreign affairs Kang Kyung-wha of South Korea, the country that celebrated the Trump-Kim summit, and Foreign Minister Taro Kono of Japan, whose nation is less enthusiastic and more skeptical about the sudden spirit of rapprochement.
Both countries host tens of thousands of AMERICAN troops and the face of a direct threat of North Korea’s weapons. But South Korea and Japan have also tetchy relationships and the different perspectives on the problem.
The moon has been a long-time supporter of the relationship with the North. He used the winter Olympics to his country hosted last month to reach out to Pyongyang. Then, South Korean officials met Kim last week and passed on to Washington that the North Korean dictator was committed to “denuclearisation” and be prepared to stop nuclear and missile tests, which the lure Trump to talk.
Kang followed Thursday by a lunch with Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and adviser. Also, they had met during the Olympic games closing ceremony.
The japanese Prime minister shinzo Abe now appears an outsider. He has forged close ties with the Trumpet, and is an avid supporter of his campaign of “maximum pressure” on North Korea, primarily through economic sanctions. While he says he welcomes dialogue with North Korea, he is adamant, the pariahs of the nation must be real steps in the direction of give of its nuclear weapons.
James Schoff, a former adviser to the Pentagon on East Asia, said that the Japanese officials are unnerved by Trump’s unpredictability and the fear that the U.S. could reach a deal with Kim on long-range North Korean missiles that constitute a threat to the US. without the approach of the shorter-range weapons that pose a threat to Japan.
Although Schoff said, there is no reason to think that such a divisive move is in the cards, the Japanese want to be informed and consulted on the top of the plans. “They want to keep up the maximum pressure and ensure that we are not cutting into their interests in a deal,” he said.
Next to Kono on Friday, Sullivan told reporters the US and Japan would discuss their “many common interests” and to build on the allies of the ” unbreakable bonds.”
Associated Press writer Catherine Lucey contributed to this report.