Tillerson to visit East Asia
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, a former oil executive with no government experience, has yet to make an impact in Washington, where he has not even appointed senior staff.
But this week he will head as emissary of the world’s top power to Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing to tackle a nuclear standoff that threatens to tip into a catastrophic war.
Tillerson will arrive in Tokyo on Wednesday for talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, who watched Pyongyang’s latest missile tests with alarm.
On Friday, he will be in Seoul and a South Korea mired in a domestic political crisis but also still braced for further provocations from its belligerent northern neighbor.
The secretary will meet Hwang Kyo-ahn — who is acting president until an election can be held to replace impeached leader Park Geun-hye — and talk with Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se.
Then, on Saturday, Tillerson will be in China, the United States’ nearest peer as a world power and perhaps the only one that retains any leverage over the regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
China supported previous United Nations sanctions against North Korea, and has in theory halted coal imports from its smaller neighbor, but it is reluctant to take steps that could see the regime fall.
Since coming to office in January, and especially since the most recent North Korean missile tests last week, Trump has been looking for ways to turn up the pressure on Pyongyang.