Published: Sun, March 19, 2017
Culture | By Julio Duncan

Tillerson says NKorea 'need not fear' United States

Tillerson says NKorea 'need not fear' United States

"I highly value the fact that you chose Japan as your first place to visit in Asia", he said, adding that it indicates the "importance" the United States attaches to the relationship.

Tillerson outlined a tougher strategy to confront North Korea's nuclear threat after visiting the world's most heavily armed border near the tense buffer zone between rivals North and South Korea.

He said that now "in response to North Korean nuclear missile "experiments", the United States and its allies take steps to bolster exercises and other military activity, which in turn pushes Pyongyang to new provocative actions".

In spite of his warning, US officials have stressed that while an ongoing review on North Korea policy includes military options, such contingency planning has been conducted for decades and that the preferred course is to press Pyongyang to abandon its weapons programs through increased sanctions and other diplomatic pressure, particularly on China.

The exercise comes more than a week after North Korea launched four ballistic missiles into the sea off Japan's northwest coast, with one rocket landing about 200 km (124 miles) from the town of Oga.

"The United States provided $1.35 billion dollars in assistance to North Korea as an encouragement to take a different pathway".

"Everybody agrees on the challenge, which is: How do you stop North Korea's bad behaviour?" "China has done little to help!"

"We do believe they have a very important role to play", Tillerson said. "All options are on the table". As the pro-unification The Hankyoreh notes, China approaches the THAAD deployments and North Korea's nuclear ambitions as separate issues, but may use the former as a "credible alibi" for its failure to curtail the latter. "In return, North Korea has detonated nuclear weapons and launched ballistic missiles".

This was in response to a comment to CNN by USA ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley that the U.S. has "been there, done that" with six-party talks on North Korea.

And then at the weekend, there will be his much-anticipated trip to Beijing, amid reports that Tillerson will seek to finalise plans for Chinese leader Xi Jinping to visit Trump in April.

He called on Beijing to implement sanctions against North Korea and said there was no need for China to punish South Korea for deploying an advanced US anti-missile system aimed at defending against North Korea.

The United States could also field the same THAAD missile-defense system in Japan that it is now installing in South Korea or take the potentially provocative step of reinstalling American nuclear weapons at USA bases in South Korea.

"We believe these actions are unnecessary and troubling", Tillerson said, referring to what South Korea sees as Chinese retaliation in the form of business restrictions in response to the deployment of the missile system.

"We look forward to a productive relationship with whoever the South Korean people elect to be their next President", Tillerson said.

"We hope they will not", said Xiao Qian, the Director General of the Asian Affairs department.

That deal collapsed in 2002, and North Korea achieved its first atomic test in 2006.

However, Tillerson dismissed suggestions by Beijing that the U.S. should drop joint military exercises with South Korea as a show of good faith to Pyongyang.

The paper warned that a USA stance where it would only accept a decision from the World Trade Organization in its favor as "an opportunist approach" that can not be accepted.

But since his victory he has twice met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and has been careful to offer complete support, as Tillerson reiterated.

Beijing favors further efforts to negotiate with North Korea, and hosted the last such global effort, which failed.

The relatively inexperienced Tillerson has waded into a political minefield in South Korea, where President Park Geun-hye was impeached a week ago and preparations are being made for a snap election on May 9.

The Democratic United Party's Moon Jae-in, who now leads in the polls, has been critical of the THAAD agreement and suggested it should be renegotiated, saying Park should have sought the approval of the National Assembly before deployment began.

Tillerson then went to the Joint Security Area, where blue buildings straddle the border and US and South Korean forces face their northern enemies at close quarters.

China resents USA pressure to do more on North Korea and says it is doing all it can but will not take steps to threatened the livelihoods of the North Korean people.

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