TOKYO — U.S. and Japanese diplomats agreed Tuesday to maximize pressure on North Korea to resolve tensions over its nuclear program, citing the need to be prepared for the worst if diplomacy fails.
US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, after meeting with his Japanese counterpart Shinsuke Sugiyama, told reporters that the State Department is still focused on diplomacy to resolve the issue and eventually denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. .
“We must, however, with our allies in Japan and South Korea and elsewhere, be prepared for the worst should diplomacy fail,” he said. The United States must be prepared to defend itself and its allies, he said.
Sugiyama, briefing reporters separately, reiterated Japan’s support for President Donald Trump’s policy of keeping all options open, but stressed the need for a diplomatic solution by enhancing cooperation between Japan, the US and South Korea. South, as well as cooperation with China and Russia.
The two diplomats will join their South Korean counterpart in Seoul for further talks on North Korea on Wednesday.
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The talks come as the United States and South Korea hold joint naval exercises this week. They regularly hold joint exercises, although North Korea condemns them as an invasion rehearsal.
North Korea’s deputy UN ambassador warned on Monday that the situation on the peninsula “has reached the touch-and-go point and a nuclear war may break out at any moment.”
Kim In Ryong told the UN General Assembly disarmament committee that North Korea has been the subject of a direct nuclear threat from the United States and has the right to possess nuclear weapons in self-defense.
He pointed to military exercises and what he called a US plan to mount a “secret operation aimed at the removal of our supreme leadership.”
Kim’s speech follows ever-tightening UN sanctions. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country is cutting economic, scientific and other ties with North Korea in line with UN sanctions, and the European Union has also announced new sanctions.