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(LEAD) Top diplomats of S. Korea, U.S. discuss Kim Jong-un's threat of highest-level action

All Headlines 16:16 September 22, 2017

(ATTN: UPDATES with more info from 8th para)

SEOUL, Sept. 22 (Yonhap) -- The top diplomats of South Korea and the United States have briefly met in New York and discussed North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's threat to take the highest-level action in response to the U.S. president's recent speech, the foreign ministry here said Friday.

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson "exchanged primary analysis and opinions of Kim's statement ... and agreed to carry out further close study of it," the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a press release.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un vowed to consider "with seriousness exercising of a corresponding, highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history," in a statement released in English by his country's state-run news media.

The words were in response to U.S. President Donald Trump's threat to "totally destroy" the North Korean regime during his address at the United Nations General Assembly earlier in the week.

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho, who is currently visiting New York, later said the action might be the testing of a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean.

During the meeting, Kang and Tillerson also agreed to hold working-level discussions to follow up the summit of their countries' leaders Thursday (U.S. time). They vowed to keep the top-level momentum going with the successful hosting of Trump's visit to South Korea in November.

Kang plans to visit Washington D.C. from Sept. 24-26 to meet U.S. lawmakers and academics, the ministry noted.

This photo provided by EPA shows South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha (L) talking to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at a United Nations meeting in New York on Sept. 21, 2017. (Yonhap)

Their meeting came on the sidelines of the U.N. Security Council's ministerial meeting on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in New York.

Attending the ministerial meeting, Kang said that North Korea's advancing nuclear and missile capabilities are posing the "most urgent and serious" threats to the global nonproliferation regime. She also called for the international community's united and resolute response to North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

"Kang stressed that North Korea should come out to the path of denuclearization for the sake of its safety and economic development with the lesson that continued provocations would lead to deeper diplomatic isolation and economic sanctions and eventually result in its downfall," according to the ministry.

She also underlined the South Korean government's commitment to peacefully achieving North Korea's complete, verifiable and irreversible nuclear dismantlement.

UNSC member countries expressed their concerns over the North Korean nuclear and missile development as well as the use of chemical weapons in Syria and called for faithful implementation of UNSC resolutions on North Korea and further efforts to intensify the regime for the nonproliferation of WMDs, the ministry also said.

The UNSC meeting brought together the representatives of the council's member countries, including Tillerson, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and U.N. High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu, to discuss North Korean WMD development and other proliferation concerns.


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