Time for talk on North Korea over, says Abe

Japanese leader supports US stance on North Korea, agrees that 'all options' on table

UNITED NATIONS: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday said the time for dialogue with North Korea was over and rallied behind a United States warning that "all options" are on the table.

Addressing the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, Mr Abe said "there is not much time left" to take action on North Korea, which in recent weeks has detonated a sixth nuclear bomb and fired a series of missiles over or near Japan.

A day after US President Donald Trump threatened to "totally destroy" North Korea if it attacks, Mr Abe said: "We consistently support the stance of the US - that 'all options are on the table'."

He said the world has tried exhaustively to reach a settlement with North Korea, starting with the US-backed 1994 Agreed Framework, which collapsed a decade later.

He said: "Again and again, attempts to resolve issues through dialogue have all come to naught. In what hope of success are we now repeating the very same failure a third time?

"What is needed is not dialogue, but pressure."

US Vice President Mike Pence, addressing the UN Security Council on Wednesday, said: "If we are forced to defend ourselves and our allies, we will do so with military power that is effective and overwhelming."


Mr Abe demanded strict implementation of UN sanctions on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's regime, the latest round of which includes a ban on the country's textile exports and a freeze on work permits to North Korean guest workers.

But years of sanctions have had limited effect on North Korea, which follows a "juche" ideology of self-reliance and counts on neighbouring China as its economic lifeline.

China, frustrated by Mr Kim's actions but also fearing the consequences of his regime's collapse, has repeatedly urged dialogue, with Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Tuesday urging an end to the "current deepening vicious cycle".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a close US ally, said on Wednesday she has a "clear disagreement" with Mr Trump.

"I am against such threats," said Dr Merkel, who has been openly critical of Mr Trump in the run-up to Germany's election on Sunday.

"We believe that any kind of military solution is completely deficient, and we support diplomatic efforts."

At the UN, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven also voiced concern over Mr Trump's bellicose tone and urged dialogue in tandem with sanctions.

"There is no military solution, because that would be a disaster, not only for North Korea but for South Korea, the whole peninsula and Japan," he told reporters.

Seoul, one of the world's biggest cities and economic engines, lies just 55km from North Korean frontlines - meaning millions of lives could be at risk if conflict breaks out.

South Korean President Moon Jae In is a longtime dove, but has agreed with Mr Trump to ratchet up pressure on North Korea.

Mr Abe warned that global credibility was on the line, saying North Korea is on the threshold of mastering hydrogen bombs and intercontinental ballistic missiles that would be able to strike the US.

"North Korea is attempting to dismiss with a smirk the efforts towards disarmament we have assiduously undertaken over the years," he said. - AFP

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