WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will meet top officials from Japan and South Korea, officials said Thursday (Jan 9), weeks after North Korea defiantly threatened a new weapon.
The State Department said that Pompeo would meet senior counterparts from the two US allies during a Jan 12 to 15 trip to the San Francisco area.
The State Department did not provide further detail but said Pompeo would make public remarks, including at Stanford University.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in a New Year’s address declared an end to his regime’s moratorium on nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests. He also threatened to demonstrate a “new strategic weapon.”
His vow came after months of demands that the United States offer concessions to North Korea on the easing of punishing sanctions.
A self-imposed ban on such tests had been a centerpiece of the nuclear diplomacy between Pyongyang and Washington over the past two years, which saw three meetings between Kim and US President Donald Trump, but little tangible progress.
Despite Trump’s insistence that Kim has become his friend, his administration has insisted that it will not budge on sanctions until North Korea comprehensively denuclearizes.
Pompeo’s talks also come as Japan and South Korea gradually ease tensions, which had spiked over emotionally charged disagreements related to colonial history.
The two US allies have also taken different nuances on North Korea, with South Korea’s dovish President Moon Jae-in encouraging further diplomacy to entice Pyongyang.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe rose to power campaigning on a hard line against North Korea, although he has backed the efforts of Trump, with whom has had developed a close relationship.
While Washington was waiting for a threatened “Christmas gift” from Kim Jong Un, attention has shifted in the New Year to soaring tensions with Iran after Trump ordered the killing of its most prominent general.