Updated May. 31, 2014 05:05
The U.S. government said on Thursday that it supports the agreement between Japan and North Korea to re-investigate Pyongyang`s abduction of Japanese citizens.
"We continue to support Japanese efforts to resolve the abductions issue in a transparent manner," U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told a news briefing.
Asked whether the U.S. had been informed about the agreement in advance, she said it was told beforehand by Japan, adding that Washington had been contacting Tokyo on a regular basis.
The U.S. reaction indicates that Washington will take a wait-and-see attitude toward the humanitarian issue, although it is concerned about the possibility of the Tokyo-Pyongyang agreement resulting in cracks in the three-way cooperation among the U.S., South Korea and Japan.
However, some analysts say that what the U.S. is supporting is Japan`s efforts to resolve the abduction issue, not the North Korea-Japan agreement itself. In particular, Psaki`s mention of "a transparent manner" is interpreted as a message to the Japanese government a warning that Tokyo`s lifting of sanctions on Pyongyang without coordination with Seoul and Washington would become a problem. "It is a demand that Tokyo proceed with negotiations with Pyongyang without hiding anything," said a diplomatic source in Washington.
U.S. experts think that the Tokyo-Pyongyang negotiation process will likely be rough. Frank Jannuzi, president and CEO of the Mansfield Foundation, told the Voice of America that if the North conducts a nuclear test or makes a missile provocation, the implementation of the agreement will be affected and that it would not be easy to maintain the dialogue channel with the North. Alan Romberg, a senior researcher at the Stimson Center, noted that while Pyongyang will likely seek to use improved ties with Tokyo as a springboard for the resumption of the six-party denuclearization talks, it is hard to predict how the re-investigation of the abduction issue will end up.