'Situation in Asia-Pacific becoming more and more difficult'



Washington: In an apparent reference to the recent Chinese postures and the nuclear tests conducted by the North Korea, the visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told the US President Barack Obama that the security environment in the Asia-Pacific region is becoming "more and more difficult".

"When we look at the security environment in the Asia Pacific, it's becoming more and more difficult. And we need to create an order in this region based on cooperation between our two countries to secure the freedom of the seas and to secure a region which is governed based on laws, not on force," Abe told reporters in the Oval Office in a joint press availability with Obama after the meeting between the two.

This was Obama's first meeting with a foreign leader in the Oval Office of White House in his second term, which began since January 20.

"We just cannot tolerate the actions of North Korea, such as launching missiles and conducting nuclear tests. So we agreed that we would cooperate with each other in dealing resolutely with North Korea," he said.

Obama and Abe held wide range of talks on bilateral and regional issues. "I expressed my appreciation for the support Japan has provided to our efforts in Afghanistan, our efforts to resolve the nuclear issue in Iran, and we expressed mutual condolences around the loss of life at the BP plant in Algeria and pledged that this would spur greater counter-terrorism cooperation," Obama said.

Both the leaders agreed that their number-one priority would be to encourage the trade and commerce relationships and sustain the economic growth of their respective countries.

"So we'll be talking about a host of issues and steps that we can take in our respective countries to encourage the kind of trade, expanded commerce, and robust growth that will lead to greater opportunity for both the United States and Japan," Obama said.

They also agreed that North Korea should not be rewarded for its provocative behavior.

"We agreed that it was important for Japan and the United States to not provide awards to North Korea for their actions such as launching missiles and conducting nuclear tests. We agreed that we would cooperate so that a resolution, including sanctions, would be adopted in the UN," Abe said.

Later in a joint statement, the two countries agreed that should Japan participate in the TPP negotiations, all goods would be subjected to negotiations, and it would join others in achieving a comprehensive, high-standard agreement.

"Recognising that both countries have bilateral trade sensitivities, such as certain agricultural products for Japan and certain manufactured products for the US, the two governments confirm that as the final outcome will be determined during the negotiations, it is not required to make a prior commitment to unilaterally eliminate all tariffs upon joining the TPP negotiations," the joint statement said.

PTI