The tension between the United States and North Korea around the differences in their stance in denuclearization roadmap peaked at the ASEAN Regional Forum. Foreign ministers of the two countries concentrated on diplomacy war to get concession from the other party without facing each other at all except for few seconds when they smiled and shook hands with each other.
Emphasizing the need of “gradual and simultaneous implementation,” North Korea pleaded for help of the global community. But the high-level pressure of the United States was even tougher than expected with additional independent sanctions and the U.N. report that pointed out illegal trades of petroleum and coal. It was difficult to feel the warm atmosphere in Singapore where the U.S.-North Korea summit was held just two months ago.
“We are never going to move first [for denuclearization],” said North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho at the ARF free discussion, once again asking for a pre-emptive action of the Unites States. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo nonchalantly led bilateral talks and a press conference and emphasized implementation of North Korea sanctions. He checked on ARF member countries breaking away from North Korea sanctions in the face of Pyongyang. “Pompeo said he will spend most of his time at the ARF by expressing gratitude to countries that are implementing sanctions, pointing out that Kim Jong Un is not keeping his promises to denuclearize,” said a reporter who accompanied Pompeo. This means that he has been preparing for the message to put sanctions on North Korea before attending the ARF.
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