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(4th LD) Yun, Kerry say 'no daylight' between allies against N. Korea

All Headlines 15:47 May 18, 2015

(ATTN: UPDATES with remarks on history row, other details; ADDS photo)
By Lee Chi-dong and Lee Haye-ah

SEOUL, May 18 (Yonhap) -- Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Monday reaffirmed that there is "no daylight" between the allies in dealing with North Korea.

They also agreed to ratchet up pressure on North Korea, which has "recklessly abandoned" its obligations under U.N. resolutions.

"There is no daylight, not an inch, not a centimeter, not a microscope of difference between the United States and the Republic of Korea in our approach to the question of North Korea's provocations and its nuclear program," Kerry said at a joint press conference with Yun after their talks.

Kerry met with President Park Geun-hye earlier in the day as she is scheduled to visit Washington in the middle of next month.

His visit here, the first in 15 months, came amid the North's growing threats. It recently announced the successful test-launch of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), which would provide the country with an advanced way of delivering a nuclear warhead. The North also fired hundreds of artillery shells into the waters just north of the Yellow Sea border with the South last week.

Kerry stressed that such provocations show that the communist nation is running against Washington's efforts to resume dialogue and improve bilateral ties. He said the North should first demonstrate a genuine willingness to fulfill its denuclearization commitments.

"To this moment, particularly with its recent provocations, it is clear that (North Korea) has not even come close to meeting that standard," he said, adding that consultations are under way to increase pressure either through sanctions or other means.

Last weekend, he traveled to Beijing, where he voiced hope that a nuclear deal with Iran will send a positive message to North Korea.

Kerry directly criticized North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for churning out "stories of grotesque, grisly, horrendous public displays of executions." Kim Jong-un is alleged to have ordered the public execution of Hyon Yong-chol, the North's defense minister.

Yun also said the sides agreed on the seriousness of the North's provocations and uncertainty over its leadership.

"In talks this time, we took note of uncertainty over North Korea's internal situations. We agreed to strengthen joint deterrence and coordination on the North Korea issue at a high level between South Korea and the U.S.," Yun said.

On a regional history row, Kerry made clear that Japan was responsible for the wartime sexual enslavement of Korean and other Asian women.

"With respect to ...the trafficking of women for sexual purposes by the Japanese military during that war, we have said many times that that was a terrible, egregious violation of human rights," he said.

The secretary's words were a repeat of U.S. President Barack Obama's comments on the so-called "comfort women" issue. In his trip to Seoul in April 2014, Obama used the same expression.

Kerry's statement, however, came amid lingering doubts here about whether the Obama administration is taking a balanced approach.

Addressing the U.S. Congress last month, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe refused to offer a clear apology for the wartime sex slavery. U.S. officials, nonetheless, spoke much of Abe's speech as Washington and Tokyo beef up their alliance.

The two sides revised joint defense guidelines to allow Japan to expand the role of its self-defense forces abroad.

Kerry said "nothing can be done" by Japan without South Korea's consent in terms of issues related to the security of the peninsula.

He plans to visit the U.S. military base in Yongsan and deliver a lecture on cybersecurity at Korea University later in the day before heading back home.



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