Will Washington ease pressure on North Korea? The Yomiuri Shimbun


File photo showing the White House, the official residence and workplace of Us President Donald Trump, located in Washington, DC.
File photo showing the White House, the official residence and workplace of Us President Donald Trump, located in Washington, DC.PHOTO: NYTIMES

In its editorial, the paper urges US President Donald Trump to exercise caution in dealing with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

TOKYO (THE YOMIURI SHIMBUN/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A difference in standpoints over North Korea's denuclearisation still remains.

US President Donald Trump needs to recognise that it is premature to ease pressure on Pyongyang.

With regard to the unprecedented upcoming US-North Korea summit, Trump declared that it will be held in Singapore on June 12, as originally scheduled.

The cancellation of the summit, which he had announced about a week ago, has been reversed.

He said his meeting with Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea, "went very well." A personal letter from Kim Jong Un, chairman of the party, was also delivered by hand to Trump.

It was the first time in about 18 years that a senior official of North Korea, which has no diplomatic relations with the United States, has visited the White House and met with a US president.

The unusually cordial reception accorded by Washington probably took into account Pyongyang's apprehension about securing guarantees from the United States over the regime's safety.

US-North Korea working-level talks have also been held at Panmunjom in the demilitarised zone that runs along the border between South and North Korea, and in Singapore.

It is important to close the rift between the two sides through thorough preparations.

A matter of concern is that Trump has been conveying a mood of friendship and has become too eager regarding the realisation of the summit talks, even though North Korea has not relaxed its cautious stance about abandoning its nuclear ambitions.

 
 
 

Trump said the June 12 summit will be the "beginning" of a process of denuclearisation, and that both sides are not going to sign an agreement.

Emphasising the necessity of continuously holding talks, Trump also made clear that he had told the North Korean side to "take your time."

Washington may have made concessions to North Korea, which is calling for its denuclearisation in stages.

As a matter of fact, it is difficult for everything to be solved in a single meeting, but the objective of realising early the "complete, verifiable and irreversible nuclear dismantlement" of North Korea must not be shaken.

While declaring that the United States will maintain its sanctions on North Korea, Trump also said that "I don't even want to use the term 'maximum pressure' anymore."

This may contradict his own remarks that sounded an alarm bell to the revitalisation of China-North Korea trade.

If international efforts to contain North Korea loosen, it would provide room for North Korea to delay its denuclearisation.

It is reasonable that Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera pointed out that maintaining pressure on Pyongyang would lead to solving the problem.

For the past more than 20 years, North Korea has advanced its nuclear and missile development program as its highest priority issue, while deceiving the international community.

It will not be easy to convince Chairman Kim that there would not be any future prospects to open up for the country even if Pyongyang possesses a nuclear arsenal, and then guide him into taking a path toward denuclearisation and international cooperation.

Trump's suggestion that the three neighbouring countries of Japan, China and South Korea will extend economic assistance to Pyongyang if it abandons its nuclear programme is far too hasty.

Priority should be given to discerning whether Kim would make a firm decision to shift his strategy or not.

The Japanese government must continue telling the United States of its position of seeking concrete progress on the issues of North Korea's nuclear and missile programme, and the abduction of Japanese nationals.

The Yomiuri Shimbun is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 23 news media entities.