Japan defence minister says North Korea's intentions unclear, careful analysis needed

Japan's Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera (second right) arrives for a session of the House of Representatives Budget Committee in Tokyo on Feb 5, 2018.
Japan's Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera (second right) arrives for a session of the House of Representatives Budget Committee in Tokyo on Feb 5, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera said on Wednesday (March 7) that North Korea's intentions were unclear and careful analysis was needed, when asked by reporters about plans for a summit by North and South Korea.

Mr Onodera said there was no change to Japan's stance that maximum pressure on North Korea was needed in cooperation with the United States and South Korea.

He said that for meaningful dialogue to happen, North Korea must take concrete steps towards denuclearisation.

Seoul said on Tuesday the two Koreas will hold their first summit in a decade late next month, as the North affirmed its commitment to denuclearise if its security is guaranteed and expressed willingness to resume dialogue with the United States in a rare meeting with South Korean envoys.

US President Donald Trump, in response, tweeted on Tuesday night (March 6) that "possible progress (is) being made in talks with North Korea".

"For the first time in many years, a serious effort is being made by all parties concerned. The world is watching and waiting! May be false hope, but the US is ready to go hard in either direction!"

China's Foreign Ministry called for all sides to "seize the current opportunity" to promote denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.