Sung Kim, US President Joe Biden’s special envoy for North Korea, arrived in Japan’s capital Tokyo on Saturday to meet with Noh Kyu-duk, his South Korean counterpart, and Takehiro Funakoshi, director general of Japan’s Foreign Ministry department for North Korea. “That meeting was to focus on creative ways of diplomatically engaging Pyongyang [on the nuclear issue],” Leif-Eric Easley, an associate professor of international studies at Ewha Women’s University in Seoul, told DW. “But now a trilateral statement is needed that mentions sanctions and defense cooperation, while also calling on North Korea to practice military restraint, resume dialogue and accept humanitarian assistance for alleviating the suffering of its people.” The test was particularly provocative and merited international sanctions because the cruise weapons were “strategic,” implying an intention to miniaturise nuclear warheads to fit on them, Easley said. “However, Pyongyang may be calculating that Washington will take a weaker approach [to sanctions], given strained US relations with China and Russia and both those countries’ general opposition to increasing sanctions,” he told DW. China, which shares a land border with North Korea, remains the country’s biggest trade partner, according to US-based think tank Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), helping sustain Kim Jong Un’s regime.