Word of Trump-Kim Summit Meeting Stirs Concern in Asia

Word of Trump-Kim Summit Meeting Stirs Concern in Asia

By MOTOKO RICH    MARCH 8, 2018         The New York Times

TOKYO — As North Korea conducted ballistic missile and nuclear tests and President Trump threatened fiery responses last year, Japan and South Korea feared the worst: a nuclear conflict on their front doorsteps.

But now, as President Trump accepts an offer from North Korea’s Kim Jong-un to discuss the country’s nuclear program, another fear is looming: that President Trump might offer concessions that the North’s Asian neighbors would find unpalatable, or, if the talks fail, resort to a military option.

Shortly after the announcement of the summit meeting, Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, told reporters he appreciated “North Korea’s change” and attributed the diplomatic overture to the pressure of sanctions coordinated by the United States, Japan and South Korea.

“We will continue imposing the utmost pressure until North Korea takes specific actions toward thorough, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization,” Mr. Abe said, emphasizing that “Japan and the U.S. have been and will be together 100 percent.”

He also said he would visit Mr. Trump in Washington next month to discuss the North Korean nuclear issue before the president meets Mr. Kim.

Analysts saw Mr. Abe’s language as suggesting that Japan fears that the North might define denuclearization differently from the rest of the world.

 

“I think there’s real concern about a deal-maker president talking one-on-one with Kim, accepting something less than” verifiable and irreversible denuclearization, said Tobias Harris, a Japan analyst at Teneo Intelligence, a political risk consultancy based in New York.

“The Japanese government obviously wants the North Korean threat resolved,” he added, “but I don’t think Japanese officials are naïve about the difficulty of achieving a truly meaningful disarmament agreement under these circumstances.”

In remarks released by the White House, an unnamed senior official said President Trump had spoken with Mr. Abe on Thursday night in Washington. The official added that the administration sought a verifiable deal for the permanent denuclearization of North Korea.

In Seoul, a spokeswoman for President Moon Jae-in described the invitation to talk as “another great breakthrough.”

President Trump’s acceptance of Mr. Kim’s invitation to a summit meeting clearly marked a diplomatic victory for Mr. Moon, adding momentum to the South Korean leader’s efforts to steer the nuclear crisis from talk of war toward negotiations.

But analysts quickly noted the risks for Washington and Seoul if Mr. Kim did not live up to American expectations for negotiations, or if South Korea pursued better relations with the North should Mr. Kim not take any steps toward denuclearization.

“Announcing intention for a U.S.-North Korea summit, with so many details yet undetermined, carries risks,” said Leif-Eric Easley, associate professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul. “If the Trump-Kim meeting breaks down, both engagement and pressure campaigns could suffer.”

There was no immediate reaction from China’s Foreign Ministry, but some Chinese analysts were pleased with the news.

“The United States cannot resist North Korea’s proposals, and Trump is grabbing at them,” said Cheng Xiaohe, professor of international relations at Renmin University. “That’s good.”

Wendy R. Sherman, the lead negotiator for the Obama administration on the Iran nuclear deal, said China would be wary of a meeting between Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump even though Beijing wants dialogue between the two.

“North Korea is not about a rush to denuclearize,” she said. “They are about dominance, respect and the reunification of the peninsula on its own terms.”

“Does China want Kim to determine the future of Northeast Asia?” she asked. “China wants to define the future of Asia. The United States is a Pacific power and wants to protect and grow its place in Asia. However China doesn’t want North Korea as a nuclear state. The United States doesn’t want that. There maybe common ground there.”

Any talks could end up offering only a temporary reprieve, given the American readiness for military action.

“What is worth paying attention to is whether North Korea will state very clearly that they are willing to give up their nuclear weapons,” said Zhang Liangui, professor of international studies at the Central Party School of the Communist Party.

“If North Korea tries to beat around the bush again this time,” Mr. Zhang added, “I think the U.S. is ready to resolve the problem with force.”

In Japan, where Mr. Abe has worked to maintain a close relationship with the American president, analysts said officials were keen to rein in Mr. Trump’s impulsive tendencies.

On the same day that Mr. Trump accepted Mr. Kim’s invitation, he announced tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, a move that Japan’s foreign minister, Taro Kono, described as “regrettable.”

During a budget hearing in parliament, Mr. Kono expressed skepticism about North Korea’s intentions.

“Anyone can say that one has the intention to denuclearize,” he said. “So far North Korea has done the same twice, to save time to develop nuclear weapons. So Japan’s stance is unchanged. It’s necessary for them to show concrete actions.”

Euan Graham, director of the international security program at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia, said it was worrying that the North Koreans were dictating the pace of events.

“Kim Jong-un is playing this very well,” he said. “He’s got South Korea acting as his emissary, and now an unprecedented summit with the U.S. president, all on the basis of a vague and untested commitment to denuclearization.”

“My concern is the U.S. is being drawn into a negotiation prematurely, without the internal coherence required to hold the North Koreans to a meaningful bargain that doesn’t compromise U.S. interests, and those of its allies,” he added.

Choe Sang-Hun contributed reporting from Seoul, South Korea, Jane Perlez from Beijing, and Jacqueline Williams from Sydney, Australia.

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/08/world/asia/trump-kim-meeting-asia-reaction.html?action=click&contentCollection=Asia%20Pacific&module=RelatedCoverage&region=Marginalia&pgtype=article

Trump Administration Cancels Back-Channel Talks With North Korea

皆さん、お元気ですか?旭川時事英語研究会の宮口です。
先週は仕事の都合で欠席させていただきました。今週は例の暗殺の件を取り上げます。

By JANE PERLEZFEB. 25, 2017                  The New York Times

BEIJING — After approving plans on Friday for informal talks in New York between a North Korean delegation and former American officials, the Trump administration reversed course hours later, withdrawing approval for the North Koreans’ visas, two people who were to take part in the planned talks said.

The schedule called for the two sides to meet in early March, and arrangements were underway for the six-member North Korean group, led by Choe Son-hui, who runs the American affairs bureau of the North’s Foreign Ministry, to travel to New York.

The organizer of the talks, the National Committee on American Foreign Policy, led by Donald S. Zagoria, was told by the State Department on Friday morning that the visas would be granted.

But the decision was reversed in the afternoon when “someone overruled State,” said one person who planned to participate in the talks. Both of the people on the participants’ list spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the matter.

The reversal came as the Malaysian government announced that VX nerve agent, a chemical on a United Nations list of weapons of mass destruction, was used to kill the estranged half brother of the leader of North Korea at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Feb. 13.

South Korea has accused North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, of ordering the killing of his half brother, Kim Jong-nam.

Just days before Mr. Kim’s death, North Korea launched a new type of nuclear-capable missile, apparently timed to coincide with the visit of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan to the United States. News of the missile test arrived as President Trump and Mr. Abe were eating dinner at Mar-a-Lago, the president’s members-only club in Palm Beach, Fla.

At first, the North Korea developments did not appear to deter the State Department’s plan to move ahead with the talks.

The use of the VX nerve agent was already known when Mr. Zagoria got the green light about the visas on Friday morning. The missile test was on Feb. 11.

The State Department also knew about tough comments Mr. Trump made about the North Korean leader during an interview with Reuters on Thursday.

“It’s very late,” Mr. Trump said when asked whether he would meet with Mr. Kim. “We’re very angry at what he’s done, and frankly this should have been taken care of during the Obama administration.”

The decision to reverse the initial approval for the visas came hours later on Friday afternoon, one of the people who planned to take part in the talks said.

But it was clear, that person said, that a senior official in the State Department, the White House or elsewhere in the government had second thoughts about issuing visas to representatives of North Korea in light of recent events.

“I suspect it was a combination of the VX attack and the president’s personal pique that caused the reversal,” the person said. “Someone obviously looked at the fact that the United States was going to issue visas to representatives of a country that had just violated international law, carried out a murder and intentionally violated the sovereignty of another country, and decided, ‘Maybe this isn’t such a good idea.’”

 

While the talks were unofficial, they were seen as a test of the willingness of the Trump administration to begin serious negotiations at a later date, or to send a special American envoy to North Korea.

Several prominent nuclear weapons experts have urged Mr. Trump to send an envoy, arguing that President Barack Obama’s refusal to engage with the North allowed it to make significant advances in its nuclear weapons program.

“Every six to seven weeks North Korea may be able to add another nuclear weapon to its arsenal,” Siegfried S. Hecker, emeritus director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory and a senior fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University, said in a recent Op-Ed article.

The leader of the North Korean delegation, Ms. Choe, planned to travel to New York in her “nongovernmental” role as president of North Korea’s Institute for American Studies.

The American participants were mostly former officials who had dealt with North Korea over many years. Some of them have participated in similar gatherings with North Koreans organized outside the United States.

But more weight was given to the New York gathering because it was taking place at the start of the new administration. During his election campaign, Mr. Trump said he was open to meeting with the North Korean leader over a hamburger.

The Americans in the group represented a wide range of views on North Korea. Winston Lord, a former ambassador to China who was on the list of participants, recently wrote in a dissent to a report for the Asia Society that the United States should immediately step up sanctions on North Korea.

Others in the American delegation were Robert L. Gallucci, a negotiator on North Korea during the Clinton presidency; Victor Cha, a senior adviser on North Korea to George W. Bush; and Evans J. R. Revere, a former principal deputy assistant secretary of state specializing in North Korea.

Mr. Gallucci and Mr. Cha wrote a report for the George W. Bush Institute last year that emphasized the human rights abuses in North Korea.

As well as holding discussions about the North’s rapidly expanding nuclear program, the American delegation was planning to talk with the North Koreans about two Americans now detained in North Korea.

A version of this article appears in print on February 26, 2017, on Page A8 of the New York edition with the headline: U.S. Cancels Talks With North Korea. Order ReprintsToday’s Paper|Subscribe

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/25/world/asia/white-house-north-korea-talks.html?mabReward=CTM2&recp=0&moduleDetail=recommendations-0&action=click&contentCollection=Asia%20Pacific&region=Footer&module=WhatsNext&version=WhatsNext&contentID=WhatsNext&src=recg&pgtype=article