Secretary Kerry’s First Visit to Northeast Asia: Rolling the North Korea Stone Back Up the Hill

John KerryJohn Kerry’s first visit to Northeast Asia came against the backdrop of increasing tensions stoked by North Korean evacuation announcements and missile-launch threats. His meetings with new leaders Park Geun-hye, Xi Jinping, Abe Shinzo succeeded in changing tone of the conversation about North Korea from a military to a diplomatic focus and to strengthen diplomatic consultation processes with the new administrations in South Korea and China, it remains to be seen whether there will be substantive shifts in the respective policies of the various governments. John Kerry’s first-ever visit to Seoul provided an opportunity for newly-elected Park Geun-hye to lay out hopeful vision for the future of Korean peninsula and to signal public willingness to move from confrontation to dialogue. North Korea wasted no time in shooting down Park Geun-hye’s public calls for diplomacy, referring to it as “crafty trick” to pursue dialogue+confrontation at the same time. Kerry issued a surprisingly strong call on North Korea not to conduct a missile test at a moment when there were expectations for an imminent missile launch, along with assurances that the United States is prepared to defend South Korea, and he can count it a success the North Koreans decided not to step over this red line before he was able to return home. Presidents Park and Obama will meet at the White House on May 7 to affirm their close coordination. In Beiing, the anchor stop on Kerry’s itinerary, the change in tone included high expectations for Chinese cooperation and an apparent downplaying of the “rebalance,” or pivot, which patiently awaited John Kerry’s last stop in Japan before meriting public mention. Shift toward diplomacy with North Korea drives up expectations for Chinese performance. But despite the change in tone and Kerry’s apparent willingness to put missile defense improvements on the negotiating table, it remains to be seen whether China’s policies toward North Korea will shift or whether N.K. is prepared to reciprocate the shift in public emphasis on diplomacy as opposed to confrontation. In rhetorical terms, there was no sign of change in China’s goal of maintaining peace and stability and denuclearization or the shared goal of denuclearization of Korean peninsula through peaceful negotiations. One potentially positive development was the establishment of a series of high-level dialogue opportunities over next few months, including planned visit of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, intelligence exchanges, and Strategic and Economic Dialogue set to take place in July (…..)



Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional


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