Pyongyang seeks summit, fires missiles . . .
On Tuesday, a few hours after North Korea’s vice-foreign minister Choe Son Hui expressed Pyongyang’s willingness to engage in another bilateral summit with the U.S., North Korea launched two missiles into the Sea of Japan/East Sea. Choe said that North Korea was willing to restart talks in late September, but only if the U.S. were to present a new proposal acceptable to the North. Previous bilateral summits didn’t reach a breakthrough, with Washington seeking complete denuclearization while Pyongyang wants comprehensive security guarantees and an end to sanctions in return for limited denuclearization. The recent tests were short-range projectiles that experts believe were intended to demonstrate the North’s capability to strike targets in South Korea.
Frustrated with the U.S. while courting China, Russia . . .
Pyongyang is hurting from ongoing economic sanctions, which has led the Hermit Kingdom to increase its engagement with China and Russia. North Korean President Kim Jong-un held summits with Russian President Vladimir Putin in April and with Chinese President Xi Jinping in June. These summits were followed with high-level exchanges, including a recent three-day visit to North Korea by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and North Korean delegates conducting intergovernmental meetings during the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok earlier this month.
An alliance strained . . .
North Korea’s missile-testing presents renewed challenges for the U.S. and its allies, Japan and South Korea. With the Trump administration locked in a trade war with China and seeking to reset its relations with Russia, Japan-South Korea relations have soured on trade and other disagreements, the breakdown of the South Korea-Japan intelligence sharing pact being the latest fissure. The North’s latest launches will require close co-ordination among the three allies, a prospect that might not be as easy as many hope. Canada should remain watchful of this dangerous situation and maintain close contact with allies in the region.