In a show of unity, the U.S., Japan and South Korea on Monday said they would not resume nuclear negotiations with North Korea until it stops its “provocative and belligerent” behaviour and takes concrete steps to roll back its nuclear arms programme.
“They need to demonstrate a seriousness of purpose in ending their provocations and let the world know they are now ready to come to the table and fulfil the commitments they have already made,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told reporters after meeting Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara and South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung Hwan. Mrs Clinton’s meeting was intended to demonstrate a serious response to recent North Korean actions, including its deadly shelling of a South Korean island last month and its announced expansion of a uranium enrichment capability that the U.S. and others see as a defiant and dangerous step. “All agree that North Korea’s provocative and belligerent behaviour jeopardises peace and stability in Asia,” Mrs Clinton said. Conspicuous in their absence, however, were representatives of the two other countries that have worked with the U.S., Japan and South Korea on the North Korean problem: China and Russia. Together with North Korea, they are members of what has become known as the six-party talks. Asked about China’s absence, Mrs Clinton said Monday’s meeting was specifically intended to coordinate with U.S. treaty allies – Japan and South Korea – rather than convene a larger group.
“We look forward to China playing a vital role in regional diplomacy,” she said. “They have a unique relationship with North Korea, and we would hope that China would work with us to send a clear, unmistakable message to North Korea that they have to demonstrate a seriousness of purpose.” China, a traditional supporter of North Korea, has called for an emergency session of the so-called six-party talks with the U.S., Japan, South Korea, Russia and China in negotiations with North Korea. But Mrs Clinton made clear that Washington, Tokyo and Seoul view a resumption of talks as tantamount to rewarding North Korea for behaving badly. The North has established a pattern of taking provocative actions, such as testing a nuclear device and launching ballistic missiles, and then seeking through negotiations to gain concessions from the U.S. and its partners.
A part of Mrs Clinton’s message on Monday was that the Obama administration will not go down that path, although she also reiterated that under the right conditions the U.S. is willing to talk to the North. “North Korea first needs to take concrete steps to demonstrate a change of behaviour,” Mrs Clinton said. In a joint written statement, the three officials condemned North Korea’s construction of a new uranium enrichment facility. They said it violates U.N. Security Council resolutions as well as the North’s commitments in a September 2005 agreement with the other parties to the six-party talks.
“Resumption of the six-party talks will require the (North) to make sincere efforts to improve relations with the (South) as well as taking concrete steps to demonstrate a genuine commitment to complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearisation,” the U.S.-Japan-South Korea statement said. – Telegraph