Secretary of State John Kerry said in Tokyo today that the United States was willing to start talks again with North Korea as long as it took steps to give up its nuclear weapons.
Kerry was vague on just what the North Korean government would have to do as far as giving up their nukes. In fact, he indicated later in the news conference that talks may begin even if the North does nothing on their nuclear program.
Kerry said he might consider using someone other than an official U.S. government envoy to reach out to the North and he left the door open to a negotiation with the North that might not require them to take denuclearization steps in advance.
“If the Chinese came to us and said, ‘look, here’s what we’ve got cooking and so forth,’ I’m not going to tell you that I’m shutting the door today to something that’s logical and that might have a chance of success,” he said. “On the other hand, what the standard is today is they have to take action.”
Sen. John McCain, a Republican, voiced skepticism about the resuming negotiations with the North.
“If we give them food, if we give them oil, if we give them money, they will come around and they take our money and run,” he said.
Japan’s Kishida told the same news conference that the two allies want Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear ambitions.
“We agreed that North Korea should cease provocative speech and behavior and show it is taking concrete action toward denuclearization,” he said. “We cannot allow North Korea in any way to possess nuclear weapons.”
Kerry thought it “unfortunate” that the media had concentrated its coverage on “war”:
“I think it is really unfortunate that there has been so much focus and attention in the media and elsewhere on the subject of war, when what we really ought to be talking about is the possibility of peace. And I think there are those possibilities,” Kerry earlier told a news conference in Tokyo after a meeting with his Japanese counterpart, Fumio Kishida.
Kerry was in Japan for the final stop on an Asian tour aimed at solidifying support for curbing North Korea’s nuclear program, and reassuring U.S. allies.
Perhaps Kerry would share with us what else the media should have been covering when the North Korean leader was declaring war, threatening war, hinting at war, and describing war.
Monday is the anniversary of the birth of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung and it is expected that the North will finally launch one or two ballistic missiles — just to make sure that there’s no relaxing anywhere in the region. Otherwise, more of the same coming from Pyongyang:
“We will expand in quantity our nuclear weapons capability, which is the treasure of a unified Korea … that we would never barter at any price,” Kim Young-nam, North Korea’s titular head of state, told a gathering of officials and service personnel applauding Kim Il-Sung.
The KCNA news agency also rejected as a “cunning trick” South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s suggestion last week of holding talks with the North.
There’s also been some interest in the world press in the fact that Kim Jong-Un has not been seen in public since April 1. With no noticeable military movements, it is unlikely there has been a coup. Some analysts suggest it’s just more psychological warfare by the North who delights in keeping the west off balance.
I suppose we should resign ourselves to enduring these tantrums from North Korea every couple of years as their economy continues to demonstrate an inability to adequately feed its people. But perhaps next time, we shouldn’t pay quite as much attention to Kim’s rants and take a page from the South Koreans who pretty much continued with business as usual despite the bombast from their neighbor.