Japan warns over North Korean ‘charm offensive’

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TOKYO: Japan has told an international meeting on North Korea that the world should not be blinded by Pyongyang’s recent “charm offensive”.
Foreign Minister Taro Kono’s comments in Canada come as North and South Korea discuss Pyongyang’s plans to participate in the Winter Olympics. The 20 foreign ministers at the Vancouver talks agreed to increase pressure on Pyongyang.
But they also expressed support for the ongoing North-South discussions.
North Korea has in the past two years rapidly advanced its nuclear and conventional weapons programmes, despite increasing international sanctions. Its latest ballistic test, on 28 November, sparked a new series of fresh sanctions from the UN, which targeted petrol shipments and travel.
But North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said in early January that he was “open to dialogue” with the South and proposed sending a delegation to the Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea next month.
The two Koreas subsequently held their first high-level talks in more than two years on how to make this happen.
The inter-Korean talks have been credited with easing tensions on the peninsula, but Mr Kono urged countries not to let their guard down.
“I am aware that some people argue that because North Korea is engaging in inter-Korean dialogue, we should reward them by lifting up sanctions or by providing some sort of assistance,” he said.
“Frankly I think this view is just too naive. I believe that North Korea wants to buy some time to continue their nuclear missile programme.”

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