Korea on US missile defense system
Harris, head of the United States Pacific Command, based in Hawaii, said North Korea is “closer to being able to deliver a nuclear-equipped missile anywhere in the world” and called for further co-ordination between the U.S., Japan and South Korea to deal with the threat.
Abe also struck a conciliatory note, saying: “With the new president, I wish to build future-oriented Japan-South Korea relations”.
South Korea’s new President Moon Jae-In dispatched Lee to Beijing in the wake of his election victory last week.
Its latest ballistic missile launch, in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions, was on Sunday, which it said was a test of its capability to carry a “large-size heavy nuclear warhead”, drawing security council condemnation.
Moon, who took office on Wednesday, favours engagement with the North – whose key diplomatic backer is China – to bring it to the negotiating table over its nuclear and missile ambitions.
The Chinese have begun squeezing the South Koreans through boycotts of their exports since the United States began installing in South Korea a missile-defense system, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System, which the Chinese claim is capable of targeting them as well as North Korea and, thus, destabilizing.
The North has vowed to develop a missile mounted with a nuclear warhead that can strike the mainland United States. A member of the South Korean delegation said Tillerson also reiterated Washington’s promise to not seek regime change or conduct an invasion.
Hong also told the news agency that Tillerson said many companies stood ready to invest in North Korea should Pyongyang make the right choices.
China wants to put ties with South Korea back on a “normal track”, President Xi Jinping said on Friday, but Beijing also urged Seoul to respect its concerns and resolve tensions over the deployment of a USA anti-missile system that it opposes.
America could potentially spend less on Korean problems, including for the $1 billion THAAD system, visiting U.S. Navy aircraft carrier battle groups and joint exercises with South Korea and Japan, if Moon’s “sunshine” policy gained some traction.
The UN Security Council North Korea sanctions committee has been meeting with regional blocs at the United Nations to push for enforcement of existing sanctions and assist countries with questions on how to implement the measures.
Seoul and Washington have argued that the missile system is aimed at North Korean aggression, while China sees it as a threat to its own security.
Tensions have been running high in the region, with Pyongyang launching what appeared to be its longest-range missile yet on Sunday.