National / Politics

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono to call for boosted pressure on nuclear-armed North Korea at Munich security meeting

Kyodo

Foreign Minister Taro Kono plans to call for international cooperation in ratcheting up pressure on North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions, at an international security conference next month in Germany, a government source has said.

Kono is expected to deliver a speech to that effect at the Munich Security Conference to be held for three days from Feb. 16, the source said Saturday. Ministers and senior military personnel, mainly from NATO member countries, will attend the meeting.

When Kono’s predecessor, Fumio Kishida, attended the Munich conference in 2014, he stressed in his speech the importance of promoting cooperation among Japan, the United States and European nations to bolster efforts maintain the maritime rules-based order, an effort widely seen as an attempt to halt China’s growing military assertiveness.

Kono is expected to refrain from reiterating that stance toward China this time amid recent signs of a thaw between Asia’s two largest economies after years of strain over territorial and history-related issues, the source said.

Instead, Kono plans to focus on North Korea, stressing in a speech that Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions should not be tolerated.

He is expected to ask participating countries to fully carry out sanctions against North Korea based on U.N. Security Council resolutions.

The North in September conducted its sixth and largest nuclear test and has ramped up the pace of its ballistic missile program, making advancements in its quest to field a nuclear-tipped missile capable of striking the continental United States.

“This would be an opportunity to deepen understanding that North Korea’s nuclear development is a common threat to the world,” the source said.

The Munich Security Conference has been held each February since 1962 in the southern German city to discuss security issues. It has in recent years been attended by leaders and other high-ranking representatives of over 70 countries.

Last year, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov were among those who took part in the gathering.