Australia PM says Olympic unity won’t denuclearize N. Korea
TOKYO (AP) — Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Thursday he welcomed the recent dialogue between North and South Korea but marching together at the Winter Olympics won’t denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.
Turnbull, visiting Japan to talk with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe about regional security, trade and other issues, cautioned against optimism.
“We have to be very clear-eyed about this,” he told reporters. “History tells us a very bitter lesson about North Korea. They have a long habit of ratcheting up their militarization and then, you know, going into a lull for a while trying to persuade people that they’re changing their ways, changing nothing and then ratcheting up again.”
North and South Korea held rare talks in a border village this week where they agreed to form their first unified Olympic team, in women’s ice hockey, and have their athletes parade together during the opening ceremony of next month’s Winter Olympics in South Korea. They’ll present the plan to the International Olympic Committee this weekend in Switzerland.
Turnbull said pressure and sanctions against North Korea over its weapons programs must be maintained.
In a news conference following their talks, Turnbull said he and Abe agreed on the importance of enforcing the sanctions “so this regime is brought to its senses and stop threatening in the manner that it does the peace and stability of our region.”
Japan and Australia have been deepening their defense cooperation amid the tensions over North Korea’s nuclear and missile development and China’s expansion in the Pacific.
The two leaders agreed to accelerate negotiations on a visiting forces pact that would specify the legal status of troops temporarily in each other’s countries for drills and simplify procedures for defense equipment transport.
Abe and Turnbull also reaffirmed their cooperation to achieve a signing of the 11-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement without the U.S. as early as possible. The pact had been cast into doubt after President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out.
Earlier Thursday, Turnbull and Abe visited a Japanese military training camp just outside Tokyo, where they viewed a PAC-3 missile interceptor and got inside a Bushmaster armored vehicle, which was developed in Australia and adopted by Japan’s military in 2014.
Turnbull said his country and Japan work for open markets and free trade, which “is underpinned by security.”
He also attended a special session of Japan’s national security council, spoke to business leaders and had dinner with Abe before leaving Japan.
Associated Press writers Ken Moritsugu in Tokyo and Rod McGuirk in Canberra, Australia, contributed to this report.