(ATTN: UPDATES with remarks from U.S. administration official on outcome of the U.S.-Japan summit from 7th para; ADDS photo)
By Byun Duk-kun
WASHINGTON, Jan. 21 (Yonhap) -- U.S. President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida reaffirmed their commitment to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula on Friday.
The leaders also condemned North Korea's recent ballistic missile launches in their virtual bilateral summit, according to the White House.
"The two leaders condemned the recent ballistic missile launches by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), which are in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions," the White House said of the U.S.-Japan summit in a press release, referring to North Korea by its official name.
The North conducted four rounds of missile launches since the start of this year, including the test firing of what Pyongyang claims to be a new hypersonic missile in two of those four launches.
"Toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, both leaders committed to maintain close coordination on DPRK issues moving forward, in lockstep with the Republic of Korea (ROK)," the press release said.
The Biden-Kishida summit marked the first of its kind since the Japanese leader took office in October.
A senior U.S. administration official said the U.S. president and the Japanese leader sought to send a clear message to North Korea.
"Both countries, obviously, strongly condemned the provocations that we've seen from North Korea, made clear that the two countries were prepared for diplomacy," the official said in a telephonic press briefing.
"But given what North Korea had undertaken, I thought it was extremely important to have clear statements of vigilance and purpose," the official added.
The official said the U.S. was also concerned by North Korea's recent statement that it may consider restarting "temporarily-suspended activities," which many believe hinted at resuming its nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile testing.
"We're concerned by those statements. We are in close consultation with all our allies and partners and other countries in the Indo Pacific and we've sent a very clear message to North Korea in an effort to dissuade them from further provocative steps," said the official while speaking on condition of anonymity.
"The United States and South Korea remain open to diplomacy but such a set of steps would be most unwelcome, particularly at this delicate time in Northeast Asia and globally more generally," he added.
North Korea has maintained a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests since November 2017, despite its leader Kim Jong-un announcing in 2019 that he no longer felt bound by such restrictions.
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