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Obama tells Tokyo crowd of administration's outreach to N. Korea, Burma

By Anne E. Kornblut
TOKYO -- In his speech Saturday to an audience of invited Americans and Japanese officials, President Obama discussed a wide range of U.S.-Asian issues. Among them was his administration's evolving approach to dealing with East Asia's two troublesome military dictatorships: North Korea and Burma.

The administration announced this week that it will soon send an envoy to North Korea to persuade the government of Kim Jong Il to return to stalled six-party nuclear disarmament talks. The North walked out of those talks early this year and followed with a series of provocative moves, including detonation of a nuclear bomb and the launch of a flurry of missiles.

Since then, North Korea has shown renewed interest in negotiations. Still, its government has repeatedly said it has no intention of giving up its nuclear program, which it has used for years as a lever to win diplomatic concessions, as well as food and fuel aid.

If North Korea does return in good faith to diplomatic resolution of the nuclear issue, Obama said Saturday, the United States is "prepared to offer North Korea a different future."

In a nod to the Japanese government, which is demanding that North Korea provide detailed information on its abduction of Japanese citizens in the 1970s, Obama said that "full normalization" of relations with the North depends a "full accounting" of what it has done with the abductees. This demand won loud applause.

On Burma, Obama said that neither U.S. sanctions nor engagement by other countries have improved the lives of people, so his administration is "communicating directly with the leadership."

But Obama did not say that this direct contact had won any concessions from the Burmese leadership, which has managed to overcome diplomatic isolation by making major deals for the sales of raw materials to China, India and Thailand.

By Post Editor  |  November 13, 2009; 10:39 PM ET
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Posted by: dnrocket | November 15, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Can't we all get along?

Diplomacy, just that easy.

Posted by: edbyronadams | November 14, 2009 8:32 AM | Report abuse

And the Japanese should make a full accounting for all of the bad that they caused in Asia, just as the Germans did in Europe.

After all, Tokyo drew first blood!

Posted by: rush_n_crush | November 14, 2009 6:16 AM | Report abuse

obama is a joke.... he is a one term anomaly......

Posted by: albertarraj | November 14, 2009 3:53 AM | Report abuse

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