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Japan, US and S Korea agree to step up pressure on North

Senior officials from Japan, the United States and South Korea on Thursday agreed to step up pressure on North Korea as they stick to their goal of persuading the communist state to abandon its nuclear weapons. Their pledge comes just two days after US National Intelligence Director James Clapper publicly called that goal a “lost cause.” He said the best hope is capping its capability instead.

The deputy foreign ministers, who held talks in Tokyo, made clear that North Korea now poses a new level of threat and requires broader international pressure and tougher sanctions.

US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken, after meeting with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts, said their policy has not changed.

“We will not accept North Korea as nuclear state, we will not accept North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons, period,” Blinken said. 

“We are focused on increasing the pressure on North Korea with one purpose: to bring it back to the table to negotiate in good faith. Denuclearisation. That is the objective.” 

Getting North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons programme has long been a headache in multilateral diplomacy with Pyongyang.

Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Shinsuke Sugiyama, who hosted Thursday’s talks, cited North Korea’s recent tests showing the country’s missile and nuclear capability had entered a new level of threat. 

“We need to respond differently than in the past,” he said. Officials cited the sanctions and missile defense that have been already in place, but did not elaborate on their different approaches other than fresh sanctions pending at the United Nations and possible separate additional measures by the three countries.

Meanwhile, South Korea said it plans to restart talks with Japan on a military intelligence sharing agreement to better cope with threats from North Korea. 

Information from Japan’s network of satellites and other intelligence-gathering systems would be critical in monitoring and preparing against North Korea’s fast developing nuclear weapons and missile programs, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said in Seoul. 
Agencies

Agencies

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