Kerry: U.S. open to talks with N. Korea but 'burden' on Pyongyang

April 15, 2013 at 4:17 PM
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TOKYO, April 15 (UPI) -- The United States is open to "credible negotiations" on the Korean nuclear crisis, but North Korea must act, Secretary of State John Kerry said in Tokyo.

After consulting with leaders of South Korea, China and Japan over the past few days on the provocations coming from North Korea, Kerry said Monday all were united about North Korea's nuclear missile threat.

"There can be no confusion on this point," he said. "The North's dangerous nuclear missile program threatens not only North Korea's neighbors, but it threatens its own people. ...

"The United States remains open to authentic and credible negotiations on denuclearization, but the burden is on Pyongyang," Kerry said. "North Korea must take meaningful steps to show that it will honor commitments it has already made, and it has to observe laws and the norms of international behavior."

When the world in general is moving away from nuclear proliferation, "the last thing we need is one or two states bucking the trend of history and common sense," Kerry said. "The world does not need more potential for war. And so we will stand together, and we welcome China's strong statement of its commitment two days ago to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."

It's also time for countries to put aside "long-festering territorial disputes," Kerry said, without specifically mention disputes between several countries, including Japan, and China over territorial and maritime boundaries.

"The stakes are far too high and the global economy is too fragile for anyone to allow these inherited problems to divide the region and to inflame it," he said. "Unilateral action and the failure of diplomacy would carry too great a cost, so we need to follow the example of the students at this school, think creatively and innovatively, and work together to find peaceful and diplomatic solutions to these differences."

Kerry sought to dispel some skepticism about U.S. commitment to the Asia-Pacific region, saying America will build on its "enduring presence."

Some people might be skeptical of America's commitment to this region. Well, let me be clear: President Obama made a smart and a strategic commitment to rebalance our interests and investments in Asia," Kerry said Monday in Tokyo. "My commitment to you is that as a Pacific nation that takes our Pacific partnership seriously, we will continue to build on our active and enduring presence."

Kerry also shared Obama's dream for the Pacific region, "in which nations and people forge a partnership that shapes our shared future."

To make the shared vision a reality for the region and to ensure that Asia contributes to global peace and prosperity, Kerry said all parties must wrap themselves ourselves around four growth that is strong, fair, smart and just.

"Now I will say to you we are well aware of all the challenges that remain," he said. "But the truth is the trend lines in the Asia-Pacific are heading in the right direction, the direction of reform and responsive government."

"We can only realize the promise of this Pacific dream if we choose to take that step together, building a partnership that grows strong and fair and smart and just," Kerry said in conclusion. "And if we achieve that together, we will have lived up to our responsibilities for future generations."

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