North Korea's development of nuclear weapons is not acceptable for pursuing peace and security in Asia, a former U.S. point man on Asian affairs said Monday.
The remarks by Christopher Hill, former Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, came amid international efforts to resume the long-stalled six-party talks on ending North Korea's nuclear arms program.
The multilateral disarmament forum, involving the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia, has been suspended since late 2008 as the North continued activities to develop nuclear weapons, notably its nuclear bomb test last February, in breach of an agreement reached in the talks.
China has been leading recent discussion to resume the six-party dialogue, but Washington and Seoul have shown reservations, saying the North should first demonstrate its seriousness toward giving up its nuclear arms program before the talks could begin.
"We must make very clear that North Korea's possession of nuclear weapons is not acceptable to the standard of the region. This is not acceptable for peace and security of this region," Hill told a conference in Seoul. "These are not just a slogan, not just empty words."
"We need to make it abundantly clear to North Koreans that this map they have chosen is not one that is for us acceptable to our road map for peace and security," said the former U.S. diplomat who has also served as the top U.S. envoy to the now dormant six-party forum.
"I don't think any of the five other countries in the six-party talks will disagree with that proposition," he said.
Hill also called for improvement in the icy relations among Asian nations, especially between China and Japan as well as South Korea and Japan, noting that the North Korean nuclear issue could be resolved by better international relations in Northeast Asia.
"Today we have something that the U.S. did not seek, does not want. We have bilateral problems by China and its neighbors," Hill said. "This is not in our interest. This is not in anybody's interest," he said particularly of the strained Beijing-Tokyo ties over their territorial disputes surrounding certain outcroppings in the East China Sea.
"I would like to say China and Japan could understand that it is not true that one has to be up, while the other has to be down, both countries can do a better job, both need to understand the need for a pattern of cooperation," according to the former U.S. official.
"You need to be very careful about allowing your domestic nationalism to spill into international issues," he said, accusing both Japan and China of nationalism in dealing with their foreign affairs of late.
The former diplomat also highlighted Washington's intention to step up its collaboration with China, saying "North Korea is a good place to continue (their cooperation)."
China seems to be worried North Korea's potential collapse, and becoming a successor country to South Korea, may indicate the U.S.' victory over China, Hill said, adding "it's a wrong way to look at it."
The U.S. is not interested in compromising China's security nor is it interested in stationing troops along the Yalu River on the Sino-North Korean border, he said, noting that "China needs to get over this zero-sum thinking." (Yonhap)