The United States shares common interests with China, Japan and South Korea when it comes to maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, former Ambassador John Negroponte told Newsmax on Wednesday.
The career diplomat, who had extended service in Southeast Asia and Central and South America, told Newsmax TV's John Bachman that deciphering the threats being made is not easy, but “at the very least, one has to take some precautions” in the event of an attack.
“Figuring out what the leadership of North Korea is trying to do at any given time is not the easiest thing in the world,” Negroponte said. “They are a very opaque society, they’re not transparent, they have a young, new leader, and they have a record of troublemaking in the peninsula.”
But meanwhile, the United States does share in the responsibility for keeping peace in the region.
“No one has an interest in some kind of conflict erupting,” he said. “Back in the Bush administration we created this six-party talk mechanism to engage in the issue of peace on the Korean peninsula in the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”
The parties included the United States, China, Japan, North and South Korea and Russia, and while the United States does not have much leverage over North Korea, China, as “the primary supplier of both energy and food supplies to the North Korean economy” does.
China has also shown some aggression in the South China Sea, but Negroponte said the country's actions should not be a reason to engage in “serious conflict,” as the disputes are the kind that could be resolved through negotiation.
The talks, he said, could include a negotiated maritime boundary, much as the United States has with Cuba.
However, it would be difficult for the United States to play a role in brokering a boundary agreement, he noted.
“It’s hard for us to play a brokering role there but we should encourage a peaceful solution and that’s certainly something we have been doing,” said Negroponte. “It would also help if the United States were to ratify the Law of the Sea Treaty because that’s been pending before the United States Congress for a number of years now.”
Negroponte also discussed the 10 year anniversary of the start of the Iraq War, including the day the landmark statue of Saddam Hussein was pulled down. He said he has no idea what the future will hold in the Middle East.
Meanwhile, he said, Iraq “is back up to pre-war levels of oil production and the country is growing,”
Syria is also disturbing, said Negroponte, and the United States is in a “damned if you do and damned if you don't” situation with the Syrian situation.
He said he does not agree that the United States should take a leadership role or arm rebels in Syria. “It's going to be a collaborative effort,” he said. “It's going to be us. It's going to be the other key countries in the Middle East, these Gulf countries that I mentioned. It’s going to take money. People have resources to be helpful to Syria. There’s a lot of things that will have to be focused on. The U.N. could play a role.”
Moving on to discuss South America, Negroponte, said that following the death of Hugo Chavez, he is not sure if Venezuela will move toward a more democratic form of government.
However, he said, the United States should pay attention to what goes on, even if other countries such as North Korea and Iraq are getting more attention.
“We now have trade agreements with virtually all of the countries on the Pacific Coast of this hemispheres, and that positions us well both for competitiveness in this region and for also looking to collaboration with the whole Pacific Rim, which is what this Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiation is all about,” he concluded.
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