U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has met in Tokyo with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the last day of a three-nation Asian tour focusing on North Korea.
Kerry said Monday that the two had made important advances in cyber-security, climate change and on solidarity with respect to the North Korean threat on the Korean peninsula.
The top U.S. diplomat met with the Japanese leader after telling students at the Tokyo Institute of Technology that the burden is on Pyongyang to take meaningful steps to honor commitments it has already made. He added that the North must observe laws and the norms of international behavior.
After a meeting Sunday with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, Kerry told a news conference that Washington is willing to negotiate with North Korea for a peaceful resolution of tensions on the Korean peninsula if Pyongyang takes steps toward abandoning nuclear weapons.
Kerry said Pyongyang has a "clear course of action available to it" and will find a "ready partner" for negotiations in the United States. But, in separate remarks, Kerry said he will have to consult with colleagues in Washington about what specific actions they believe Pyongyang must take.
Kerry also reiterated Washington's commitment to the defense of Japan, a key U.S. ally. North Korea has made repeated threats to attack the United States and its regional allies, including Japan and South Korea.
Pyongyang has been angered by joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises that it sees as a prelude to an invasion of the North. Washington and Seoul have insisted the drills are defensive. North Korea also has reacted angrily to the latest U.N. sanctions imposed on it for carrying out a nuclear test in February. The United States and South Korea were among the main advocates of the sanctions.
Japan has deployed missiles around Tokyo to intercept any North Korean rockets launched toward its territory.
In a message broadcast Sunday, North Korea dismissed the South's latest offer of dialogue as a "crafty trick." Pyongyang's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said there will be no talks unless Seoul abandons what it called a "confrontational attitude."
South Korea proposed the dialogue on Thursday as a way of ending a crisis at the North's Kaesong industrial zone, where South Korean businesses employ cheap North Korean labor near the inter-Korean border. North Korean authorities withdrew the zone's more than 50,000 workers last week and blocked South Korean access to it, leading to a shutdown of manufacturing.
The zone is the last remaining site of inter-Korean economic cooperation.
Prior to Tokyo, Secretary Kerry visited Beijing, where he and Chinese foreign policy chief Yang Jiechi pledged to work together to resolve the Korean crisis. The two diplomats said Saturday they support the goal of a nuclear-free Korean peninsula.