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(3rd LD) S. Korea, U.S., Japan to hold foreign ministerial meeting in Hawaii next week

All News 06:47 February 05, 2022

(ATTN: UPDATES with remarks from a state department official on upcoming ministerial talks, minor edits in paras 7-17)
By Kim Eun-jung, Byun Duk-kun

SEOUL/WASHINGTON, Feb. 4 (Yonhap) -- The foreign ministers of South Korea, the United States and Japan will meet in Hawaii next week to discuss ways to bolster their cooperation against North Korea's increasing missile threats, their respective offices said Friday.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will host his South Korean and Japanese counterparts, Chung Eui-yong and Hayashi Yoshimasa, in Honolulu on Feb. 12, according to the state department.

"Secretary Blinken will host Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi and Republic of Korea Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong for a U.S.-Japan-Republic of Korea Trilateral Ministerial Meeting to deepen our cooperation in addressing threats from the DPRK's nuclear and missile programs and confronting 21st century challenges together across the globe," it said in a press release.

DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the North's official name.

Blinken will also have a separate meeting with Chung and Adm. John Aquilino, commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, it noted.

The trilateral meeting comes amid heightened tension on the Korean Peninsula following the North's recent spate of missile launches, which the U.S. has repeatedly condemned as a violation of multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions.

This composite photo, released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency, shows an intermediate-range ballistic missile, Hwasong-12, being launched on Jan. 30, 2022. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

This composite photo, released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency, shows an intermediate-range ballistic missile, Hwasong-12, being launched on Jan. 30, 2022. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

A senior U.S. diplomat later explained the North Korea issue will be one of key issues during the upcoming ministerial talks.

"I anticipate that we will talk in great detail about what we can do to advance and support the rules-based regional order, of what we can do to cooperate on important global issues of the day, including COVID-19 and climate change, and we'll also address the most important security challenges in the region," said Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink.

"Certainly, the North Korea issue and countering the threat posed by North Korea's nuclear and missile programs remains a top priority for the United States, and I'm confident the same can be said for our Japanese and South Korean partners," he added in a telephonic press briefing.

Plans for the trilateral talks were announced just hours before the U.N. Security Council convenes an emergency meeting on North Korea at the request of the U.S., underscoring Washington's commitment to put on a united front with its key Asian allies against the rising threat from the recalcitrant regime.

Kritenbrink said the U.S. still remains committed to engaging with North Korea in diplomacy and dialogue.

"We have made clear many times that we remain prepared to engage in serious and sustained diplomacy without precondition," he said. "We have reached out repeatedly to Pyongyang. However, to date, we have not received a substantive response."

He also said U.S. Special Representative for the DPRK Sung Kim will continue to engage with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts to discuss ways to mitigate threats posed by North Korea.

"He (Kim) has been in frequent contact with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts, and we believe that kind of contact is critical for effectively managing this challenge," said Kritenbrink.

"I should note that I think in coming days, you will see that our continued close cooperation on a trilateral basis will be further advanced by additional interactions between Ambassador Sung Kim and his Japanese and South Korean counterparts."

Kim held trilateral talks with South Korea's Noh Kyu-duk and Japan's Funakoshi Takehiro after Pyongyang launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile on Sunday (Seoul time).

The latest missile launch marked the country's seventh show of force this year and its longest-range missile test since the test-firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in November 2017.

The missile capable of reaching the U.S. territory of Guam was launched days after the Kim Jong-un regime made a thinly veiled threat to suspend its yearslong moratorium on nuclear and ICBM tests amid a deadlock in nuclear talks with the U.S.


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