Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono
Monday, April 30, 2018, 9:20 a.m. Amman, Jordan
Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I held a meeting with Mr. Mike Pompeo, the new Secretary of State of the United States of America, at 8:10 a.m. today (2:10 p.m. Japan time).
After I congratulated Secretary Pompeo on his appointment, we discussed a variety of matters related to North Korea, including the Inter-Korean Summit, with emphasis on issues regarding North Korea. While welcoming this as a positive development, we coordinated our policy approach ahead of the U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting. Japan and the United States are in complete alignment regarding the importance of North Korea taking specific actions toward complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement (CVID) and the policy of maintaining maximum pressure. In light of the fact that, when Prime Minister Abe visited the United States recently, the U.S. side agreed to raise the abductions issue at the U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting, we discussed how Japan and the United States cooperate toward resolving the abductions issue. We agreed to maintain close collaboration among Japan, the United States, and the ROK with the aim of eliciting specific actions by North Korea through the U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting and other discussions.
We also discussed the state of the Middle East, Iran, and other topics.
Reporter: Was there any mention of Secretary Pompeo’s views on the attainability of so-called CVID based on his direct discussions with Chairman Kim Jong-un?
Minister Kono: We discussed various aspects about Secretary Pompeo’s visit to North Korea and his interaction with Chairman Kim Jong-un. While there remain numerous hurdles to achieving CVID, we agreed that it must be accomplished.
Reporter: Regarding the abductions issue, it was explained yesterday that Chairman Kim Jong-un is interested in having dialogue with Japan. In light of this, what are your thoughts on the type of cooperation Japan hopes to receive on abductions in the U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting? What is the U.S. side’s intent?
Minister Kono: We also discussed how to address the abductions issue in relation to North Korea, for example during U.S.-North Korean dialogue, and in other directions. However, I would like to refrain from revealing our strategy.
Reporter: I believe that, to begin with, Secretary Pompeo is one of the individuals directly involved in advancing discussions in the U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting. What are your expectations for the U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting and how do you assess efforts to build a personal relationship between you and the new Secretary of State?
Minister Kono: I believe he speaks in a very clear manner. We agreed to discuss various matters at the G20 meeting and other opportunities. He will exercise leadership in various ways ahead of the U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting. While this is a difficult issue, it was very clear to me that Secretary Pompeo is determined to address the challenges constructively. I intend to work together closely with Secretary Pompeo.
Reporter: You personally have mentioned a CVID timeline of 2020. There are also other proposals of achieving this within half a year or a year. Did you come to any agreement on this point at the meeting? Or did you agree on any kind of overall policy direction?
Minister Kono: There have been a variety of discussions on the timeline, and I think we are getting close to making a decision among Japan, the United States, and the Republic of Korea (ROK). How North Korea responds to this timing will be a matter of discussion at the U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting. I would like to refrain from saying anything before then.
Reporter: Was there any discussion of the location or timing of the U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting?
Minister Kono: The timing and location are extremely sensitive matters and I would therefore like to refrain from discussing them.
Reporter: When you mentioned the state of the Middle East in your opening remarks, were you referring specifically to Israel and Palestine or the Middle East Peace Process?
Minister Kono: We also discussed the Middle East Peace Process. The Ministerial-Level Meeting of the Four-Party Consultative Unit related to the Jericho Agro-Industrial Park held yesterday was raised as well. Furthermore, we spoke about the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran.
Reporter: What opinion did you express regarding the JCPOA? What was the reaction from Secretary Pompeo, who is known as a hawk on this topic?
Minister Kono: Whilst I shouldn’t talk about Secretary Pompeo’s reaction, my understanding is that the U.S. Government is making various preparations for May 12.
Reporter: Regarding the U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting, President Trump has expressed a willingness to meet but also stated that he intends to leave the meeting if it does not produce results. In your meeting today with Secretary Pompeo, who has directly met Chairman Kim Jong-un, what was his level of confidence ahead of the summit meeting?
Minister Kono: My sense was that he recognizes that this is a difficult matter, but believes in the importance of moving forward toward the goal in a positive manner.
Reporter: Secretary Pompeo negotiated directly with Chairman Kim Jong-un. Does he see Chairman Kim Jong-un as someone whose words can be trusted and can be negotiated with?
Minister Kono: If Secretary Pompeo did not feel that way, I do not think we would have reached the point of arranging a U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting. Secretary Pompeo also described to me the nature and manner of his meeting with Chairman Kim Jong-un. I expect that the United States and North Korea will prepare thoroughly for the meeting.