(ATTN: ADDS Seoul's defense ministry's statement in paras 6-7)
By Byun Duk-kun
WASHINGTON, Feb. 4 (Yonhap) -- Senior defense officials of South Korea, Japan and the United States held three-way talks on Friday to discuss ways to mitigate threats posed by North Korea, the U.S. Department of Defense said.
The officials also reaffirmed their countries' commitment to holding three-way defense ministerial talks in the future.
"U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Ely Ratner, ROK Deputy Minister for National Defense Policy Kim Man-gi, and Japanese Director General for Defense Policy Masuda Kazuo discussed the threat posed by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) nuclear missile programs, regional security, and concrete means of strengthening trilateral defense cooperation to bolster security," the department said of the three-way call in a press release.
ROK stands for the Republic of Korea, South Korea's official name.
"The officials reaffirmed the importance of trilateral security cooperation and committed to conduct a Trilateral Defense Ministerial on a mutually determined future date," it added.
During the meeting, Kim also called for North Korea to halt activities that heighten tension and urged the reclusive regime to resume dialogue and take a diplomatic path, South Korea's defense ministry added.
"North Korea's missile launches are a challenge to the international society's call for a diplomatic solution for the denuclearization, peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula, and to the U.N. Security Council resolutions," Kim was also quoted as saying by Seoul's ministry.
The talks follow a series of dialogue between the U.S., South Korea and Japan to discuss North Korea's recent missile tests.
North Korea staged seven rounds of missile launches this year, including the firing of an intermediate ballistic missile on Sunday (Seoul time).
Secretary of State Antony Blinken held bilateral discussions with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts this week, while other top U.S. officials, including special representative for North Korea Sung Kim, engaged trilaterally with their South Korean and Japanese counterparts.
Blinken is also set to host South Korean and Japanese foreign ministers in Hawaii next Friday for bilateral and trilateral talks, the state department said earlier.
Pyongyang is ignoring U.S. overtures for dialogue. It has also stayed away from denuclearization talks since late 2019.
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