• Kyodo


Japan called Tuesday for continued pressure on North Korea regardless of the first formal meeting between the two Koreas in over two years.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga welcomed North Korea’s announcement that it would send a delegation to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea next month but said it would do nothing to change the cooperation of the United States, Japan and South Korea on pressuring Pyongyang to give up its nuclear program.

Noting that conditions have not been met for a resumption of dialogue with North Korea, Suga said in a recording for a radio program, “It is imperative that North Korea changes its current policy.”

Earlier Tuesday, Foreign Minister Taro Kono held a teleconference with his Canadian counterpart Chrystia Freeland and agreed to keep up pressure on the reclusive state, according to a Japanese official.

Kono will visit Canada next week to join a ministerial meeting on the North Korean crisis co-hosted by Canada and the United States.

The two Koreas held their first official talks involving senior officials — in the truce village of Panmunjom — mainly to discuss the North’s participation in the Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera and U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis also held phone talks Tuesday and agreed that international efforts to apply maximum pressure on North Korea should not be changed unless Kim Jong Un’s regime gives up its nuclear ambitions.

A senior Japanese government official said the talks between the two Koreas only benefit Pyongyang and would not contribute to resolving the threats posed by the country’s ballistic missile and nuclear development.

“I seriously doubt that having a dialogue on Olympic participation alone will lead to any positive development on the issues of Japanese nationals abducted (by North Korea) or the nuclear and missile development. North Korea is using it to buy time.”

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