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(2nd LD) Trump meets top Seoul official amid N.K. tensions

All News 08:51 January 10, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with Chung's meeting with Biegun in last 3 paras)
By Lee Haye-ah

WASHINGTON, Jan. 9 (Yonhap) -- U.S. President Donald Trump met with the top national security advisers of South Korea and Japan in Washington on Wednesday, the White House said, as nuclear talks between Washington and North Korea remain deadlocked.

Trump met briefly with Chung Eui-yong, director of Cheong Wa Dae's national security office, and his Japanese counterpart, Shigeru Kitamura, and noted that the two countries are among the strongest U.S. allies in the Indo-Pacific, according to a White House readout sent late Wednesday.

The president also expressed appreciation for the "support and deep friendship" the U.S. shares with both countries, it said.

This photo, posted on Twitter by the White House National Security Council, shows Chung Eui-yong (R), director of Cheong Wa Dae's national security office, meeting with his U.S. and Japanese counterparts -- Robert O'Brien (C) and Shigeru Kitamura, respectively -- in Washington on Jan. 8, 2020. (Yonhap)

Chung arrived in the U.S. capital this week to hold three-way consultations with his American and Japanese counterparts on recent developments with North Korea.

The visit came after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un threatened in a New Year's message to take "shocking actual action" and showcase a "new strategic weapon" in protest of stalled denuclearization talks with Washington.

U.S. National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien had "great bilateral and trilateral meetings" with his Korean and Japanese counterparts on Wednesday, the White House National Security Council said on Twitter.

"Discussions covered Iran, DPRK-related developments and the importance of trilateral security cooperation," it said, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

South Korea has been looking at ways to support U.S. security operations in the Middle East amid heightened tensions between Washington and Iran. Key among them is the possibility of deploying South Korean troops to the critical waterway in the Strait of Hormuz.

Washington has also emphasized the importance of trilateral security cooperation with Seoul and Tokyo in countering rising threats from North Korea and China.

Such insistence helped stop the two U.S. allies from terminating their bilateral military intelligence-sharing pact in November.

Chung also met with Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun, Washington's top envoy for denuclearization negotiations with North Korea.

The two "reaffirmed close U.S.-ROK coordination on North Korea," the State Department said in a readout, using the initialism for South Korea's official name, the Republic of Korea. They also "affirmed the enduring strength of the U.S.-ROK alliance and reiterated their commitment to cooperation in the Indo-Pacific."

The two discussed recent events in the Middle East and ongoing coordination on global security issues, the department added.


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