Abe, Obama agree to get tougher on North Korea


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Barack Obama agreed Thursday to seek a new U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing tougher sanctions against North Korea, in response to Pyongyang’s latest nuclear test conducted in defiance of international opposition.

Abe told Obama on the telephone that the Tuesday test has “seriously undermined peace and stability in the international community,” and expressed hope of obtaining support for a new resolution from China, which has close ties with North Korea and is one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, a Japanese official said.

Abe and Obama also agreed that Japan, the United States and South Korea should work closely in dealing with North Korean issues, the official said.

Obama said that a strong Security Council resolution, including additional sanctions on North Korea, should be adopted as soon as possible, according to the official.

The president “reaffirmed that the United States remains steadfast in its defense commitments to Japan, including the extended deterrence offered by the U.S. nuclear umbrella,” the White House said in a statement.

Japan, which bans the possession of nuclear weapons, nonetheless maintains its security under the umbrella.

During the morning talks, which lasted 20 minutes, Abe also proposed that Tokyo and Washington work closely to come up with their own financial sanctions on Pyongyang, the official said.

Abe, who served as prime minister for a year through September 2007, said the U.S. freezing of North Korean assets at Banco Delta Asia in Macau for money-laundering concerns between 2005 and 2007 was a “good” policy, according to the official.

The phone talks came ahead of Abe’s planned meeting with Obama in Washington next week.

On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida held telephone talks with his British and French counterparts on the urgent need for a new U.N. Security Council resolution against North Korea, the Foreign Ministry said.

Kishida and British Foreign Secretary William Hague agreed that Japan and Britain should work closely with other countries on the matter.

During a separate conversation with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Kishida said the nuclear test greatly damaged international peace and security. Fabius agreed decisive and effective U.N. sanctions are necessary, according to the ministry.

Lower House resolution

The Lower House adopted a resolution Thursday denouncing and protesting the North Korean nuclear test.

North Korea “went ahead with the nuclear test by ignoring the voice of the international community, and Japan, as the only victim of nuclear bombings in the world, calls it an unacceptable act,” the resolution says.

It calls for efforts to have Pyongyang accept International Atomic Energy Agency inspections and promptly abandon its nuclear arms program.