US diplomat Sherman to discuss N.Korea, China, Taiwan in Tokyo visit

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US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman will discuss North Korea’s recent missile launches, China and tensions over Taiwan, in meetings with her Japanese and South Korean counterparts in Tokyo next week, a senior State Department official said on Thursday.

Sherman’s Oct. 24-27 Tokyo trip will include a trilateral meeting with Japanese and South Korean counterparts and bilateral meetings with each country, the official told reporters.

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“We will discuss a range of issues, including the DPRK’s numerous ballistic missile launches this year, the PRC, and Russia’s unprovoked and devastating war against Ukraine,” the official said, referring to North Korea and China by the initials of their official names.

“We intend to discuss the whole panoply of issues that deal with regional security, and Taiwan is a big part of that.”

The talks with Japan are also expected to cover Japanese defense reforms and a new national security strategy Tokyo is working on, the official said.

Sherman will travel to Asia at a time of heightened tensions over North Korea and Taiwan , a self-administered island China claims as it own.

North Korea has conducted an unprecedented number of ballistic missile launches this year and Washington and its allies believe it may also be about to resume nuclear bomb testing for the first time since 2017.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned on Monday that Beijing was determined to pursue reunification with Taiwan “on a much faster timeline,” though he did not specify a date.

The top US general said last year that China was unlikely to try to militarily seize Taiwan in the next couple of years and the commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command at that time told Congress this threat could manifest itself within six years.

However, the head of the US Navy, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Gilday, told the Atlantic Council on Wednesday that US forces must be prepared for the possibility of an earlier Chinese invasion, without predicting one.

“When we talk about the 2027 window, in my mind that has to be a 2022 window or potentially a 2023 window,” he said.

China’s leader Xi Jinping told the five-yearly congress of China’s ruling Communist Party on Sunday that Beijing would never renounce the right to use force over Taiwan, but that it would strive for a peaceful resolution.

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