TOKYO: Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will hold talks with US President Barack Obama in Washington on Feb.22, with North Korea high on the agenda, the top government spokesman said on Friday.
Abe will leave Tokyo next Thursday on a four-day US visit, accompanied by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, who is planning to meet new US Secretary of State John Kerry, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news briefing.
Abe and Obama will use their first summit to “exchange views on wide-ranging issues, not only bilateral relations but also the situation in the Asia-Pacific region including the North Korean question, and to clearly demonstrate an enhanced Japan-US alliance,” he said.
The European Union plans a gamut of ‘tough’ sanctions against North Korea, ranging from financial measures to travel bans and asset freezes against individuals, EU diplomats said on Friday.
“There will be wide sanctions,” announced at talks between the bloc’s 27 foreign ministers on Monday, said an EU diplomat speaking on condition of anonymity.
These would include the implementation of individual sanctions approved at UN level as well as EU restrictions on financial dealings and trade sanctions on items potentially linked to Pyonyang’s ballistic and nuclear programmes, the source said.
“It is a tough package that aims to mark our opposition to the nuclear test,” conducted by Pyonyang on February 12, said a senior EU diplomat who also asked not to be named.
More than 100,000 troops and civilians staged a mass rally in Pyongyang to celebrate North Korea’s nuclear test and praise the “matchless” bravery of leader Kim Jong-Un, state media said.
The rally in the capital’s sprawling Kim Il-Sung square on Thursday was attended by top party and military officials, as well as police workers and students, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.
A number of speakers addressed the rally, praising Tuesday’s test as the “brilliant fruition of the extraordinary decision and matchless gut of the dear respected Kim Jong-Un,” KCNA said, in reference to the leader’s courage.
The young leader, who took over after the death of his father Kim Jong-Il in December 2011, did not attend the rally.
“It serves as a striking demonstration of the might of a scientific and technological power and a military power capable of manufacturing any strike,” KCNA said.
Pyongyang accused the United States of leading the sanctions charge in the UN Security Council, and speakers at Thursday’s rally threatened “merciless retaliatory blows” if the US pushed tougher sanctions after the nuclear test.
Meanwhile, South Korea says it has so far failed to detect radioactive elements that may have leaked from North Korea’s third nuclear test.
Seoul said Friday it will stop sea operations to collect samples but will continue monitoring at land stations. China and Japan have also been collecting air samples but have so far reported no success.
Analysis of airborne samples is crucial in determining whether Tuesday’s detonation used uranium or plutonium.
A uranium test would be seen as a major step forward for Pyongyang’s nuclear program.
North Korea has told its key ally, China, that it is prepared to stage one or even two more nuclear tests this year in an effort to force the United States into diplomatic talks with Pyongyang, said a source with direct knowledge of the message.