Former United States President Barack Obama on Sunday highlighted the difficulties in denuclearization talks with North Korea and urged the international community to continue to apply pressure on the regime to abandon its weapons program.
US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have shown a willingness to start dialogue and could hold a summit in May, but speaking at the Global Opinion Leaders Summit in Tokyo, Obama said Pyongyang’s isolated nature would make any breakthrough difficult.
“North Korea is an example of a country that is so far out of the international norms and so disconnected with the rest of the world,” he said.
He added that a peaceful solution had to be found as the country has a weapons system that “poses a significant threat not just to the region but to the whole world.”
He insisted that Japan, South Korea, the US and China had to continue working together and applying as much pressure as possible on North Korea.
“Our view has always been that we would prefer to resolve these issues peacefully,” said Obama.
He also acknowledged that it would difficult to achieve a world without nuclear weapons if the US and Russia did not start reducing their nuclear arsenals.
His visit in 2016 to Hiroshima – the first by a US President since the city was devastated by an atomic bomb launched by Washington at the end of World War II – was an extraordinarily powerful moment for him, he recalled.
Ahead of his talk at the forum, which was organized by a Japanese NGO, Obama had lunch with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a meeting aimed at maintaining the friendship forged by the two leaders throughout their mandates, the Japanese government said in a statement.
Obama’s visit to Tokyo was part of a private tour that has already taken him to Singapore, New Zealand and Australia.