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US Envoy Reassures Japan of Alliance   07/10 06:30


   TOKYO (AP) -- A U.S. envoy reassured top Japanese officials Friday of the 
importance of their alliance in dealing with regional security threats, just as 
the North Korean leader's sister expressed low expectations of a summit between 
her brother and President Donald Trump this year.

   U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun is in Tokyo after his visit to 
Seoul where he discussed nuclear diplomacy with North Korea, which has refused 
to resume talks due to what it calls hostile American policies.

   Biegun met with Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Defense 
Minister Taro Kono separately and reaffirmed the importance of their alliance 
in maintaining and strengthening "the free and open Indo-Pacific" and dealing 
with regional concerns including North Korea and China.

   Earlier Friday, Kim Yo Jong said her brother won't be meeting Trump because 
there is no need for the North to gift Trump meetings when it's not getting any 
reward in return. In her statement released through Pyongyang's official Korean 
Central News Agency, she called for major concessions from washing ton to keep 
alive the nuclear diplomacy.

   Kim Yo Jong is seen as her brother's closest confidant and was recently 
confirmed as his top official for inter-Korean affairs.

   South Korea on Thursday asked Biegun to try to revive the talks with the 
North. He stressed during his meetings in Seoul that resuming the diplomacy 
with the North was important. But he separately accused a senior North Korean 
nuclear negotiator who had blamed the deadlocked talks on American hostility of 
being "locked in an old way of thinking." Those remarks indicated Washington 
won't likely make concessions to resume the talks despite the North's pressure.

   Kim Yo Jong said "a surprise thing may still happen, depending upon the 
judgement and decision between the two top leaders" but that the U.S. needed 
summit talks while Pyongyang did not.

   North Korea has demanded that the U.S. lift international sanctions and 
provide a security guarantee if it's truly committed to talks about the status 
of its nuclear weapons program.

   Some analysts believe North Korea, which is sensitive about potential 
changes in U.S. leadership, will avoid serious talks with the Americans for now 
before an eventual return to negotiations after the U.S. presidential election 
in November.

   Kim Yo Jong said that the diplomacy could be salvaged only by a reciprocal 
exchange of "irreversible simultaneous major steps."

   The nuclear diplomacy has stalled since a second summit between Kim and 
President Donald Trump in early 2019.


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