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OPINION | With so much attention on China, there has been far less discussion of the equally important role that our allies, South Korea and Japan, must play if we are to solve the North Korean problem.
As concern over North Korea has reached a crescendo in the early days of the Trump administration, much attention has been paid to China’s potential role in pressing North Korea to put an end to its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
During his recent meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and thereafter, the president basically put the onus on China to control its reckless neighbor. We will not allow North Korea to develop a capacity to deliver a nuclear weapon to the United States, Trump proclaimed. If China won’ t fix the problem, the U. S. will, he said.
With so much attention to China, there has been far less discussion of the equally important role that our allies, the Republic of Korea and Japan, must play if we are to solve the North Korean problem. Our bases in South Korea and Japan are central to deterrence against reckless North Korean behavior.
The North Koreans must know that any use of its nuclear weapons capability against the U. S. or its alliance will be met by overwhelming force. At the same time, our allies must be part of any strategy aimed at a peaceful resolution of the problem. Along with China, they are key to effective implementation of sanctions. They will also be crucial to any incentives that will necessarily be involved in the long-term settlement of the issues on the Peninsula.
Both Koreas share the ultimate goal of unification. While we must guard against a direct threat to the U. S., we must recognize that there no way for the U. S. to resolve our deep concerns about North Korea without the full and active cooperation of South Korea. It is the Korean Peninsula and the people of South Korea will be on the front line of any attack by the North.

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