South Korea, Japan back Trump’s decision to walk away from nuclear summit with Kim


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By F. Brinley Bruton

Some of the countries living in fear of Kim Jong Un’s arsenal appeared to heave a collective sigh of relief Thursday even though President Donald Trump abruptly left the nuclear summit with North Korea without an agreement.

The Hanoi meeting ended after Kim demanded that all economic sanctions against North Korea be lifted in return for concessions on Pyongyang’s nuclear program. “We couldn’t do that,” Trump later told reporters.

Trump showing strength by walking away from the negotiating table was preferable to him meeting Kim’s demands, according to Tomohiko Taniguchi, one of Japanese President Shinzo Abe’s senior policy advisers.

While Tokyo has long wanted a deal, ensuring it’s the right deal is crucial, Taniguchi said.

“This ‘friendly walk-away’ was much better than giving a wrong signal to Kim Jong Un,” he added. “Mr. Trump succeeded in setting in place the kind of dynamics between the two — one begging and the other refusing.”

Japan is within easy striking distance of North Korean weapons and doesn’t want to be left behind as negotiations proceed. It is also seen as a U.S. bulwark in the region and houses tens of thousands of U.S. troops and their high-tech equipment.

North Korea’s Nodong ballistic missile, also known as Rodong, has a maximum range of about 800 miles and could reach Japan in about 10 minutes. Kim tested ballistic missiles in 2017 that flew over Japanese airspace.

Japan also remains tormented by kidnappings of its citizens by North Korea decades ago.

“I, for one, appreciate that [Trump] took the time and trouble in flying all the way from Washington, D.C., to Hanoi even if it has borne little fruit,” Taniguchi told NBC News.

Abe later released a statement saying he backed Trump’s decision to leave the summit empty-handed.

“I fully support President Trump’s decision not to make the easy choice,” Abe said following a telephone call with the president.

“I am determined that I must meet Chairman Kim next,” he added, reiterating his desire to have a summit with the North Korean leader.




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