The United States has told North Korea that its "old pattern of provocation" is over, while Japan warned there was "a great possibility" that Pyongyang would carry out its first nuclear test since 2009.
Addressing a joint news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda at the White House on Monday, US President Barack Obama said "The old pattern of provocation that then gets attention and somehow insists on the world purchasing good behavior from them is broken."
He put across a joint stand by Washington and its ally Tokyo that Pyongyang must "abide by international norms, that they will not be able to purchase anything from further provocative acts".
Noda told reporters that "there is a great possibility that North Korea will conduct a nuclear test," its first one since 2009, echoing a similar concern raised by South Korea last week.
North Korea's controversial launch of a new satellite-bearing rocket earlier this month failed as it broke apart before escaping the earth's atmosphere and fell into the sea.
The launch had sparked widespread international criticism, including from the United States, South Korea and the European Union, as it was seen as a disguised long-range ballistic missile test as part of Pyongyang's preparation for a possible nuclear test.
A week ago, the United States called on the new North Korean leadership to "change course; instead put their effort into moving their country into the modern world."
Obama said on Monday that both Washington and Tokyo will "remain in close consultation on North Korea."
Obama and Noda unveiled a new US-Japan joint vision that will "help to shape the future of the Asia-Pacific region for decades to come."
Obama referred to Japan as "one of America's closest allies in the Asia-Pacific region" and around the world.
"First, we recognize that the U.S.-Japan alliance will remain the foundation of the security and prosperity of our two nations, but also a cornerstone of regional peace and security," Obama said.
The two leaders reviewed the agreement that their governments reached last week to realign American forces in Japan.
The agreement reflects the U.S. effort to modernize its defense posture in the Asia-Pacific region with forces that are more broadly distributed, more flexible and more sustainable, the president said. "At the same time," he added, it will reduce the impact on local communities like Okinawa."
Speaking through a translator, Noda reaffirmed the significance of the two nations' cooperation.
"We were able to confirm from broader perspectives the present-day significance of the Japan-U.S. alliance and where the Japan-U.S. relations should be headed in the longer term," he said.
"Now, I've always held the conviction that our bilateral alliance is the linchpin of Japan's diplomacy," he added. "Having had conversations with my with U.S. friends, yesterday only renews my conviction that Japan-U.S. alliance must be unchangeable and, in fact, be unshakable."
Obama detailed the joint vision, noting that it commits both countries to deepening their mutual trade and investments.
"We're already among each other's top trading partners, and our exports to Japan and Japanese companies here in the U.S. support more than 1 million American jobs," Obama said, adding that more remains to be done as the country works to double U.S. exports.
"We instructed our teams to continue our consultation regarding Japan's interest in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would benefit both our economies and the region," he said. "And we agreed to deepen our cooperation on nuclear safety, clean energy and cyber security to enhance our economic competitiveness."
The third part of this joint vision lays out the future the United States seeks in the Asia-Pacific region, "where international rules and norms are upheld, where nations contribute to regional security, where commerce and freedom of navigation is not impeded and where disputes are resolved peacefully."
Obama said both countries will also continue to discuss changes in Burma and India, and how to reward progress there while encouraging more reform.
The US President also commended Japan for "strong leadership" regarding Iran's nuclear program with its decision to reduce oil imports from Iran.
"This is just one more example of how despite challenging times at home, Japan has continued to serve as a model and a true global leader," Obama said.
Obama thanked Noda for helping to revitalize the U.S.-Japanese alliance and providing greater security and prosperity for both countries.
by RTT Staff Writer
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