Palau joined Japan and other Pacific island nations in pledging commitment to “exerting continued pressure on North Korea” for a denuclearization in the Korean Peninsula, however President Tommy Remenegsau Jr. yesterday expressed concerns over the uncertainty of the talks between Pyongyang and the United States.

In a Radio Australia interview yesterday, Remengesau said the possible cancellation of the planned U.S. and North Korea meeting on June 12 in Singapore is “quite a shock to everyone in the world.”

Remengesau just returned from a recent Eighth Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM8) in Japan where Palau with the other Pacific island nations and Japan “strongly called on North Korea to immediately take concrete actions” over denuclearization in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions and pledged “their commitment to exerting continued pressure on North Korea.”

The president said it is a concern whether the meeting will push through.

“We always agreed on momentum of denuclearization, that is always the interest of everyone, now the process has been halted, you do want to express the concern where does that leave North Korea now, what is the next process to be taken,” Remenegesau said in the radio interview.

Leaders of the 14 Pacific island nations and Japan also expressed deep concern over North Korea’s tactics to evade sanctions, including “ship-to-ship transfers.” Emphasized the need to accelerate efforts, including by deregistering North Korean vessels.

Earlier vessels blocked from international ports under UN sanctions on North Korea were found to be flying the flag of Palau.

However, Remenegsau said Palau has already taken improvement actions on the country’s registry partners to deregister North Korean vessels. He said there is a better vetting process in place to ensure that it complies with the UN resolutions.

“We intend to comply with the intent of the resolutions,” Remengesau said.

In the PALM 8, the leaders also stressed the importance of seeking a peaceful and diplomatic resolution toward complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of all weapons of mass destruction (WMD), including biological and chemical weapons, and ballistic missiles as well as related facilities of North Korea,” the declaration stated.

“The world will be a safer place without nuclear weapons. The peace and stability of the region is a concern,” Remengesau told local reporters here regarding the declaration.

Last year, North Korea threatened to send its nuclear missiles to Guam. Palau is in close proximity with Guam but the president is confident that foreign allies will protect everyone in the region. (Bernadette H. Carreon)