April 12, 2017 3:05 am JST

US to huddle with Japan before any North Korea strike

Tokyo sought assurance of talks on action against volatile neighbor

TOKYO -- The U.S. has agreed that any military action against North Korea would be discussed with Japan beforehand, after the government here requested such an assurance to prevent a sudden move from diplomacy to force.

Japanese government sources revealed the exchange. U.S. President Donald Trump has said repeatedly since taking office in January that "all options are on the table" to counter Pyongyang's continuing missile and nuclear tests.

While Tokyo has been understanding of Washington's desire to keep military action as a possibility if diplomacy is exhausted, officials asked the U.S. to discuss any strike on the North with Japan first. Washington agreed but said it was not ruling out military action.

Senior Japanese and American officials have worked to tighten coordination on North Korea policy in a recent series of meetings. Washington's primary strategy is to lean on China to enforce economic sanctions on the North, the sources said. 

Washington says keeping the military option open is ultimately intended to advance diplomatic efforts and demonstrates the U.S. is serious about reaching a resolution. But military force could also come into play if talks fail, say the Americans.

(Nikkei)

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