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(LEAD) S. Korea, U.S., Japan call for tough action against N.K. but emphasize talks remain on table

All Headlines 22:20 July 11, 2017

(ATTN: SPECIFIES lead; ADDS more info at bottom)

SEOUL, July 11 (Yonhap) -- The top nuclear envoys of South Korea, the United States and Japan agreed on Tuesday to "sternly" respond to North Korea's latest missile provocation but affirmed that the door for talks with Pyongyang remains open under the "right circumstances," the foreign ministry here said.

Kim Hong-kyun, special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, met with his U.S. and Japanese counterparts, Joseph Yun and Kenji Kanasugi, on the sidelines of a regional security conference in Singapore.

The meeting came amid rising tensions after the North conducted a test of what it claimed to be an intercontinental ballistic missile on July 4 capable of hitting the continental U.S. It drew strong global condemnation with the United Nations Security Council currently discussing additional sanctions against the communist state.

"The representatives of the three countries shared the view that the July 4 ballistic missile launch is a grave provocation demonstrating a significant advance in the North's missile capabilities and agreed to sternly respond with the international community, including such strong measures at the Security Council as adopting a new resolution and complete enforcement of existing ones," the ministry said.

"They also reconfirmed the importance of cooperation with China and Russia, in particular, to effectively exert pressure on the North and agreed to continue strategic communication with them," it added.

During the meeting, Kim explained the Moon Jae-in government's "phased" and "comprehensive" approach to the North in which it will try to use all available means including sanctions and dialogue.

The three vowed to maintain close coordination in attaining their shared objective of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula and reaffirmed that the door for talks with the North stays open under the "right circumstances" They also agreed to make efforts to bring the North to the path of talks for denuclearization.

The officials said the meeting in Singapore is "timely" in that it was held on the heels of the summit of their leaders in Hamburg, Germany last week, giving them a chance to follow up on what was agreed upon during the gathering.

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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