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(2nd LD) Top diplomats of S. Korea, Japan, U.S. agree to seek action against N.K.

All Headlines 17:58 September 09, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS background info in 7-8th para and China's response in last 3 paras)

SEOUL, Sept. 9 (Yonhap) -- Top diplomats of South Korea, Japan and the United States agreed on Friday to push for "additional" and "strong" measures against North Korea's latest nuclear test, suggesting that there will be more punitive action against the communist country's defiant pursuit of nuclear weapons.

A magnitude 5 earthquake was detected at the North Korea's nuclear test site in its northeastern region at around 9:30 a.m. The North later confirmed that it has successfully conducted a nuclear detonation test.

South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and his Japanese counterpart, Fumio Kishida, held talks via phone for about 20 minutes and exchanged their views and countermeasures in response to the North's fifth nuclear test, according to the foreign ministry.

Yun, currently in Laos accompanying President Park Geun-hye on the last leg of her three-country visit, and Kishida strongly condemned the nuclear provocation and promised to closely cooperate along with the United States in draw up "swift" measures from the United Nations Security Council.

In a separate telephone conversation, Yun and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shared their concerns and agreed on the need for "strong" measures in accordance with the gravity of the issue, the ministry said.

They agreed to closely work together with the international community in a way that would produce tough UNSC resolutions and other additional sanctions that they expect would fill up any "loopholes" in previous measures and make the North feel the additional pinch.

The UNSC adopted the toughest-ever resolution in March following the North's fourth nuclear test in January. South Korea, Japan, the U.S. and China have been enforcing their own sanctions to apply more pressure on the North to give up its nuclear ambitions.

Despite the unified front formed by major countries, the North has not let up on its provocations, carrying out missile tests on numerous occasions.

Yun and Kerry also vowed to induce cooperation from China and Russia in putting pressure on the North, while reaffirming the strong alliance between Seoul and Washington. They said that they remain "on the same page" when it comes to their stance on Pyongyang's latest nuclear test, according to the ministry.

Whether Yun had talks with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, on the North's fifth nuclear test, has not been known, China's foreign ministry said in a statement posted on its Website that it calls on the North to respect UNSC resolutions and stop any action that could make things worse.

The ministry proceeded to say that Beijing would push to attain denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula in close cooperation with the international community, adding that it will keep working to realize the goal through the long-stalled six-party talks in which it served as a host.

The multilateral denuclearization talks involving the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia have been stalled since late 2008 when the North walked away from the negotiating table. The North earlier said that the talks have been "dead," indicating that it has no intention of returning to them.

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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