Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono
Wednesday, June 6, 2018, 5:55 p.m. Washington D.C., United States of America
Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I held meetings with Bob Corker, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Commitee, and Robert Menendez, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and other meetings. Following this, I held a Japan-U.S. Foreign Ministers’ Meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. This was my third meeting with Secretary Pompeo. I confirmed the state of preparations for the U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting before tomorrow’s Japan-U.S. Summit Meeting and then the G7 Summit, and then I confirmed what message Japan and the United States would send in preparation for the G7 Summit. Furthermore, I held discussions about the holding of a Japan-U.S. Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, etc. after the upcoming U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting in Singapore. In particular, there is no change to the basic policy of calling on North Korea to achieve a complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement (CVID) and the international community uniting to implement economic sanctions based on Security Council (resolutions) in the meantime. In addition we finally confirmed a few of these matters for the G7, although I will refrain from revealing our detailed strategy.
Reporter: Regarding the state of preparations for the U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting, what kind of explanation did you receive from the US side?
Minister Kono: The summit meeting will probably be held. Subsequently, Secretary of State Pompeo consulted with me a little regarding the content of the summit meeting between the United States and North Korea, and we decided we would hold telephone talks whenever there was any change in the situation.
Reporter: Were there any discussions about the abductions issue this time? Furthermore, did Mr. Pompeo mention bringing up the abductions issue on June 12?
Minister Kono: The leaders have previously held discussions about bringing up the abductions issue.
Reporter: Were there any discussions about it today?
Minister Kono: We touched on the abductions issue a little.
Reporter: Regarding CVID, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo himself visited North Korea and earlier held a meeting with Vice Chairman Kim Yong-chol. What kind of explanation did you receive today about the impression of Mr. Pompeo regarding the response in that meeting?
Minister Kono: I will refrain from commenting on the content today, but basically there is no change to the fact that the international community will rigorously implement economic sanctions based on Security Council resolutions until CVID is achieved. We also consulted a little about the handling of ship-to-ship transfers and other issues.
Reporter: The other day President Trump stated he did not want to use the words “maximum pressure.” Earlier you said that you confirmed that pressure would be maintained. Was there any explanation about what that statement truly meant?
Minister Kono: My understanding is that at the time when it was announced that the summit meeting between the United States and North Korea would not go ahead President Trump stated that there are several further options regarding sanctions, but if the U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting is to be held then that means it is not necessary to apply those several available sanctions, so at least it is no longer necessary to add options regarding those maximum available sanctions. In other words, it is sufficient to continue maintaining the current sanctions based on Security Council resolutions and the independent sanctions applied by the United States, and it is a message to Kim Jong-un that the United States does not want him to do anything that will lead to the application of the available sanctions.
Reporter: You said that after the U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting you will hold a Japan-U.S. Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. It has been reported in the media that after the meeting in Seoul has finished you will hold a Japan-U.S.-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting as well. Have you confirmed the times and places for the Japan-U.S. Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and the Japan-U.S.-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting?
Minister Kono: As the United States has also been saying, the length of the U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting in Singapore, whether one or two days, or even longer than that, has not been finalized, so we have decided that we will hold a foreign ministers' meeting between Japan and the United States but I think the logistics will be decided through separate consultations.
Reporter: Regarding the pressure, am I correct in understanding that you talked about sanctions based on Security Council resolutions in your statement just now because you were taking into consideration the fact that President Trump stated that he did not want to use the words “maximum pressure”?
Minister Kono: I think that maximum pressure consists of the economic sanctions based on Security Council resolutions that are being applied now and in addition, the sanctions independently applied by the United States. President Trump has stated that there are options regarding the sanctions available in addition to those. It has been decided that the U.S.-North Korea Summit Meeting will be held, so the current situation is that it is not necessary to apply the available sanctions. In other words, it is not necessary to apply maximum pressure now, and the current economic sanctions will be maintained. Therefore it is a message to Chairman Kim Jong-un saying that the United States wants him to respond in a way that ensures that maximum pressure will not have to be applied and that the United States will not have to change its policy to execution of the available economic sanctions.