About the Author
Hamish Macdonald is an NK News contributor and has previously worked at The Korea Herald and for the Australia Centre for Independent Journalism in Sydney.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called for a new approach to North Korea policy after repeat failures to curb the DPRK’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs during a press conference in Tokyo on Thursday.
Tillerson, who arrived in Japan on Wednesday for the first leg of a four-day tour of East Asia, said that part of the purpose of his trip would be to consult regional actors on possible new approaches to the issue but, as yet, did not indicate what this would entail for the Trump administration’s North Korea policy.
“In the face of this ever-escalating threat, it is clear that a different approach is required,” Tillerson said.
“We have 20 years of failed approach… That includes a period where the United States has provided $1.35 billion in assistance to North Korea as an encouragement to take a different pathway,” he added.
In what is his first trip to Asia as Secretary of State, from Japan, Tillerson will also be visiting South Korea on March 17 and China on March 18.
“In each country, Secretary Tillerson will meet with senior officials to discuss bilateral and multilateral issues, including strategic coordination to address the advancing nuclear and missile threat from the D.P.R.K.,” a notice on the Department of State website said.
While in the Republic of Korea, according to the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tillerson will travel to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) along the border between North and South Korea.
He will also be meeting with the current acting President of South Korea Hwang Kyo-ahn, as well as holding talks and a joint press conference with South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Yun Byung-se.
During his press conference in Tokyo, Tillerson also commented on his Chinese leg of the trip and said that the U.S. believes that the government of China could be doing more to tackle North Korea’s growing nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities.
“We do believe they have a very important role to play… We will be having discussions with China as to further actions we believe they might consider taking,” Tillerson said.
This approach was foreshadowed by Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Susan A. Thornton during a press briefing on Tillerson’s Asia trip on March 13.
“We are pursuing a results-oriented relationship with China… At each meeting up to now, Secretary Tillerson has urged China to use all available tools to alter North Korea’s destabilizing behavior,” Thornton said.
During the press conference in Tokyo – in a message to North Korea itself – Tillerson also added that the country “and its people need not fear the United States or their neighbors.”