US Envoy Reassures Japan of Alliance 07/10 06:30
TOKYO (AP) -- A U.S. envoy reassured top Japanese officials Friday of the
importance of their alliance in dealing with regional security threats, just as
the North Korean leader's sister expressed low expectations of a summit between
her brother and President Donald Trump this year.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun is in Tokyo after his visit to
Seoul where he discussed nuclear diplomacy with North Korea, which has refused
to resume talks due to what it calls hostile American policies.
Biegun met with Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Defense
Minister Taro Kono separately and reaffirmed the importance of their alliance
in maintaining and strengthening "the free and open Indo-Pacific" and dealing
with regional concerns including North Korea and China.
Earlier Friday, Kim Yo Jong said her brother won't be meeting Trump because
there is no need for the North to gift Trump meetings when it's not getting any
reward in return. In her statement released through Pyongyang's official Korean
Central News Agency, she called for major concessions from washing ton to keep
alive the nuclear diplomacy.
Kim Yo Jong is seen as her brother's closest confidant and was recently
confirmed as his top official for inter-Korean affairs.
South Korea on Thursday asked Biegun to try to revive the talks with the
North. He stressed during his meetings in Seoul that resuming the diplomacy
with the North was important. But he separately accused a senior North Korean
nuclear negotiator who had blamed the deadlocked talks on American hostility of
being "locked in an old way of thinking." Those remarks indicated Washington
won't likely make concessions to resume the talks despite the North's pressure.
Kim Yo Jong said "a surprise thing may still happen, depending upon the
judgement and decision between the two top leaders" but that the U.S. needed
summit talks while Pyongyang did not.
North Korea has demanded that the U.S. lift international sanctions and
provide a security guarantee if it's truly committed to talks about the status
of its nuclear weapons program.
Some analysts believe North Korea, which is sensitive about potential
changes in U.S. leadership, will avoid serious talks with the Americans for now
before an eventual return to negotiations after the U.S. presidential election
Kim Yo Jong said that the diplomacy could be salvaged only by a reciprocal
exchange of "irreversible simultaneous major steps."
The nuclear diplomacy has stalled since a second summit between Kim and
President Donald Trump in early 2019.