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Thursday, Dec. 9, 2010
Solidarity on North Korea
The foreign ministers of the United States, Japan and South Korea — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara and South Korean Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Kim Sung Hwan — demonstrated their solidarity in dealing with North Korea when they met in Washington on Dec. 6.
On Nov. 23, North Korea shelled South Korea's Yeonpyeong Island, killing four South Koreans. It is also enriching uranium in addition to its program to make plutonium-type nuclear weapons. In a joint statement, the three foreign ministers "strongly condemned" North Korea's attack and said that the North's "provocative and belligerent behavior threatens all three countries and will be met with solidarity from all three countries."
On China's proposal for holding urgent six-party talks, involving the U.S., China, Japan, Russia and North and South Koreas, to discuss the North's Nov. 23 attack, the three foreign ministers agreed that the North should first demonstrate its willingness to stop provocative action. They also said that resumption of six-party talks on the North's denuclearization "will require the (North) to make sincere efforts to improve relations with the (South) as well as taking concrete steps to demonstrate a genuine commitment to complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization."
But the U.S., Japan and South Korea have no direct means to have North Korea behave in a way they want. They have to rely on China, the six-party talks chair that has strong ties with North Korea. So the three foreign ministers "looked forward to China's efforts to urge North Korea to adhere to its commitments" made earlier in the six-party talks.
As Mr. Maehara has said, it is vital to prevent confrontation between the grouping of Japan, the U.S. and South Korea and the grouping of China, Russia and North Korea. The first three countries must make strenuous efforts to gain the cooperation of China and Russia to have them persuade the North to cease its belligerent stance. South Korea also should act carefully so that Pyonyang will not take advantage of Seoul's behavior as an excuse for another attack.