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(LEAD) Regional powers agree to enhance pressure on N. Korea

All Headlines 14:13 May 27, 2015

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with results of talks; CHANGES headline; ADDS photo)
By Lee Chi-dong and Lee Haye-ah

SEOUL, May 27 (Yonhap) -- South Korea, the United States and Japan agreed Wednesday to ratchet up pressure and sanctions on North Korea, while continuing efforts to bring the communist nation back to talks.

Top nuclear envoys of the regional powers, in a Seoul meeting, concurred that advancement in the North's nuclear capability is "serious" and shared a "sense of urgency" in addressing the problem.

"In order to deal with it, (we) agreed to put stronger pressure (on Pyongyang) and make active efforts for dialogue," Hwang Joon-kook, Seoul's senior diplomat in charge of North Korea affairs, told reporters.

He was briefing the results of the three-way discussions with his American and Japanese counterparts -- Sung Kim and Junichi Ihara.

The gathering, the first of its kind in four months, came as Pyongyang refuses to return to the negotiating table and instead has continued its provocative acts.

It recently announced the successful test-launch of a ballistic missile from a submarine and significant progress in miniaturizing nuclear bombs.

The secretive regime, led by Kim Jong-un, who is in his early 30s, also reportedly purged defense minister Hyon Yong-chol.

Hwang said the envoys agreed to the "seriousness in advancement in North Korea's nuclear capability."

He also warned the North that it will face more international pressure if it stays on the current course.

"North Korea's diplomatic and economic isolation will deepen," he said.

Standing next to him, U.S. envoy Sung Kim echoed the view.

"We agreed on the importance of enhancing pressure and sanctions on North Korea even as we keep all diplomatic options on the table and open," he said without elaborating what means will be used.

He added that the three nations reaffirmed their commitment to continuing the "closest possible trilateral coordination" on North Korea and also maintaining "five-party unity," including China and Russia.

They all are members of the six-way talks on the North's nuclear program. The Beijing-based negotiations have been dormant for more than six years.

The Japanese delegate, Ihara, said the three parties, based on the "sense of urgency," had in-depth discussions on ways to handle the North's nuclear and missile programs.

"We were able to confirm that the three countries have the same perception," he said.

Meanwhile, Hwang plans to visit Beijing on Thursday to meet China's top nuclear negotiator, Wu Dawei, and share the results of the tripartite discussions in Seoul.

lcd@yna.co.kr

hague@yna.co.kr
(END)

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