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(LEAD) S. Korea, U.S., Japan to hold vice foreign ministers' talks in Washington

All Headlines 02:19 January 04, 2017

(ATTN: REVISES headline; UPDATES with State Department announcement; ADDS background)

SEOUL/WASHINGTON, Jan. 3 (Yonhap) -- Vice foreign ministers from South Korea, the United States and Japan will hold talks in Washington this week to discuss trilateral cooperation to counter North Korean threats, the foreign ministry here said Tuesday.

The meeting, set for Thursday, will bring together South Korean Vice Minister Lim Sung-nam and his U.S. and Japanese counterparts, Tony Blinken and Shinsuke Sugiyama, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

This week's session comes after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said in his New Year's address that the country has reached the final stage of preparations to test-fire an intercontinental ballistic missile in a thinly veiled threat that it's close to developing a nuclear missile capable of reaching the U.S.

North Korea and its nuclear issues will be discussed "broadly and in depth," the foreign ministry said.

"Strengthening trilateral cooperation in response to North Korean threats and provocations as well as ways to review and intensify implementation of sanctions on North Korea will dominate the discussion," the ministry said in a press release.

The three countries may also delve into three-way collaboration on other issues like space, global health and regional matters, it also said. Lim is also seeking to hold separate two-way meetings with Blinken and Sugiyama on the sidelines, according to the ministry.

It will be the sixth round of the three countries' regular vice foreign minister talks, launched in April 2015 in Washington. The fifth round was in October in Tokyo.

In Washington, the State Department said the trilateral sessions have been useful in bolstering cooperation.

"The consultations have deepened our trilateral cooperation with these two important U.S. allies on shared regional and global priorities, including our efforts to promote peace and stability in the face of North Korea's threatening nuclear and ballistic missile development," it said.

pbr@yna.co.kr
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