THE Howard government urged the United States to force the collapse of the North Korean regime by denying it aid, despite advice that the country had a growing nuclear arsenal and could unleash an artillery barrage on South Korea’s capital at a moment’s notice.
”Let the whole place go to shit, that’s the best thing that could happen,” the foreign affairs minister, Alexander Downer, told the commander of US and United Nations forces in South Korea at a meeting in Canberra in 2005.
A leaked US embassy cable reports that Mr Downer told General Leon LaPorte that the outside world should sharply increase pressure on North Korea, suggesting that ”aid that could prop up [North Korea’s] failing infrastructure should be withheld to bring an end to the regime’s tyranny”.
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The cable, obtained by WikiLeaks and made available exclusively to the Herald, says Mr Downer’s ”off-the-top of his head” remarks also derided New Zealand’s approach to the Korean problem.
”If US officials wanted to hear the ‘bleeding hearts’ view of ‘peace and love’ with respect to North Korea, Downer joked, they only had to visit his colleagues in New Zealand. Mr Downer said he personally agreed with George Bush that tyranny had to be ended,” the cable says.
Mr Downer met General LaPorte on February 16, 2005, against the backdrop of moves to reduce US military forces in South Korea and the protracted diplomatic stalemate over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions…
…The cable goes on to record Mr Downer’s view that the outside world should sharply increase pressure on North Korea, indeed suggesting that ”aid that could prop up [North Korea’s] failing infrastructure should be withheld in order to bring an end to the regime’s tyranny”.
Reflecting on his own visit to Pyongyang in 2000, Mr Downer described the North Korean capital as ”pathetic”, with its ”darkened streets, cracked pavements and unmowed grass.”
Mr Downer added that ”speaking off the top of his head … aid should not be given that would prop up the [North Korean] infrastructure”. The US embassy had no comment on Mr Downer’s views.