US Secy of State Rex Tillerson calls for 'different approach' on North Korea

Tokyo: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Thursday called for a "different approach" to dealing with North Korea amid the country's rising threats over its nuclear programme.

Rex Tillerson. AP

Rex Tillerson. AP

Tillerson arrived in Japan on Thursday morning beginning his first Asia tour as US secretary of state.

"I think it's important to recognise the diplomatic efforts of the last 20 years to bring North Korea to the table have failed," he said after a meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, the Washington Post reported.

His reference to 20 years of failure alluded to the 1994 deal between the US and North Korea that would have seen Pyongyang receive aid and two proliferation-resistant nuclear power plants in return for freezing and eventually dismantling its nuclear weapons programme.

That deal collapsed in 2002 and years of stop-start efforts to reach a new deal have amounted to little, with North Korea actively pursuing nuclear weapons and the missiles with which to deliver them, according to the report.

Over that time, the US had given North Korea a total of $1.35 billion in assistance "as an encouragement to take a different pathway", Tillerson said, but it had been met with continued weapons development.

"It is clear that a different approach is required," he said, adding that he and Kishida had "exchanged views about a different approach".

Kishida said he had conveyed Japan's views to Tillerson for consideration during the policy review, but he didn't go into details.

While in Tokyo, Tillerson was also scheduled to meet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who forged a bond with President Trump during his visit to Washington last month.

The US and the countries on Tillerson's itinerary are trying to find ways to convince the regime led by North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un to stop firing missiles and pursuing development of nuclear weapons, reported the newspaper.

On Friday, Tillerson will head to South Korea, which is in political turmoil after its President Park Geun-hye was impeached last week as the result of a corruption scandal.

There, the US is currently deploying a controversial missile interception system known as Thaad (Terminal High Altitude Area Defence), which could be halted by South Korea's next leader.

On Saturday, Tillerson would be visiting Beijing where, apart from North Korea, trade will also be a key topic of discussion.

Updated Date: Mar 16, 2017 16:19 PM

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