WASHINGTON – U.S. Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has told Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that she accepts his dealings with Russia, a former senior U.S. official said Wednesday.
During a Sept. 19 meeting with Abe in New York, Clinton said, “I accept that strategic wisdom,” when Abe spoke about Japan’s engagement with Russia, according to Kurt Campbell, who served as assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs from 2009 to 2013. Campbell was present at the meeting.
Speaking at a think tank event in Washington, he quoted Abe as telling Clinton that “Russia’s sole line of strategic entry into Asia really fundamentally is through China,” and that “there is an interest in a better relationship between Russia and Japan.”
While promising to keep sending Moscow a message of “a deep unhappiness” with its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014, Abe was quoted as saying Japan “also had to look for signs and opportunities for engagement with Russia” as part of efforts to address a decades-old territorial dispute.
The dispute over four islands off Hokkaido — called the Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kurils in Russia — has prevented the two countries from concluding a post-World War II peace treaty.
Japanese officials hope to make progress on the territorial issue during a planned visit to Japan by Russian President Vladimir Putin in December.
Referring to a series of provocations by North Korea, Campbell said that if Clinton, a former secretary of state, was elected president, “the United States is going to take some very tough measures with respect to North Korea.”
This year alone, North Korea has carried out two nuclear tests and launched more than 20 ballistic missiles. This is in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions banning such activities.
On the Japan-U.S. alliance, Campbell said the alliance on the security side for years was “the United States making most of the decisions, Japan quite content with that,” but that such a pattern “has completely changed now.”
He added: “At the same time that Japanese friends are seeking to strengthen the alliance, they’re also seeking a greater independence in the formulation and execution of their own foreign policy. . . . And I think that is one of the most healthy developments in a relationship.”
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