United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a meeting in Hawaii on Saturday with his counterparts from Japan and South Korea to discuss the threat posed by nuclear-armed North Korea. Blinken said after the meeting that North Korea was “taking provocative action” and the three countries condemned the recent missile test. “We are completely united in our approach, in our determination,” Blinken said after talks with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and South Korea’s Foreign Minister Chung Yue-yong.
Foreign Ministers issued joint statement
The three foreign ministers issued a joint statement calling on North Korea to engage in talks and end its “illegal activities”. He said he had no hostile intentions towards North Korea and was open to talks with Pyongyang without any preconditions.
Some experts say North Korea is testing weapons to pressure the administration of US President Joe Biden to restart long-stalled nuclear talks, because of decades of mismanagement and North Korea. The pandemic has put further pressure on an economy already battered by restrictions.
Biden administration offered talks
The Biden administration has offered open talks with North Korea, but has shown no desire to ease sanctions without meaningful cuts to its nuclear program. North Korea appears to be halting its tests because of the Winter Olympics in China, its most important ally, but analysts expect North Korea to dramatically increase its weapons testing after the Olympics.
Recent tests have shocked North Korea’s neighbors South Korea and Japan. South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who helped start historic talks between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and former President Donald Trump in 2018 and 2019, said last month that the tests violate UN Security Council resolutions. and urged North Korea to stop “actions that create tension and pressure”.
North Korea conducted its first nuclear test in 2006, after which the Security Council imposed sanctions on it. These restrictions were further tightened due to the subsequent nuclear tests. China and Russia have called for the lifting of restrictions such as a ban on seafood exports and a ban on its citizens working abroad and sending their earnings home, citing North Korea’s economic difficulties.
Blinken arrived in Fiji
Blinken arrived in Hawaii from Fiji, where he met with the country’s caretaker Prime Minister Ayaz Sayed-Khaiyum and other Pacific regional leaders to discuss regional issues, particularly the existential risks posed by climate change. This was the first visit by a US Secretary of State to Fiji since 1985.
He began his Pacific tour from Australia, where he met his counterparts from Australia, India and Japan. The ‘Quad’ is a group of these four democratic countries in the Indo-Pacific, created to counter China’s regional influence.
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