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(2nd LD) S. Korea, U.S., Japan agree to bolster security ties against N. Korea

All News 17:24 June 08, 2022

(ATTN: UPDATES with bilateral meeting of S. Korean, Japanese officials in second to last para)
By Kim Eun-jung

SEOUL, June 8 (Yonhap) -- South Korea, the United States and Japan agreed Wednesday to bolster their united front against North Korea's threats, as their senior government officials gathered here amid reports that the secretive regime is all set for a nuclear test.

It marked the first trilateral meeting of the regional powers' No. 2 diplomats in half a year, coming on the heels of a string of ballistic missile launches by the North.

In a joint statement, Vice Foreign Minister Cho Hyun-dong and his American and Japanese counterparts -- Wendy Sherman and Takeo Mori -- "strongly condemned" Pyongyang's behavior as "unlawful" acts.

South Korean Vice foreign Minister Cho Hyun-dong (C) takes a commemorative photo with his American and Japanese counterparts -- Wendy Sherman (R) and Takeo Mori -- during their meeting in Seoul on June 8, 2022. (Yonhap)

They made clear that the three sides remain committed to advancing trilateral security cooperation to counter the North's evolving threats.

Sherman reaffirmed Washington's "steadfast commitment" to the defense of its Asian allies, including "extended deterrence."

The officials urged Pyongyang to cease destabilizing acts and return to the negotiating table, citing their shared goal for the complete denuclearization of Korea through diplomacy and dialogue.

They expressed hope that the Kim Jong-un regime will respond positively to international offers of help in its fight against COVID-19.

During the talks that took place two weeks after President Joe Biden's trip to Seoul and Tokyo, the three sides also discussed ways to enhance cooperation on a range of global issues, including support for Ukraine, economic security and the promotion of "a free and open Indo-Pacific," according to the statement.

They decided to hold the next face-to-face three-way session in Tokyo in the fall.

The previous day, Cho had bilateral talks with Sherman on the allies' coordinated response to North Korea and follow-up measures to the summit accord between Biden and President Yoon Suk-yeol. The presidents had their first summit in Seoul last month.

Later in the day, Cho and Mori held a separate meeting to discuss ways to mend fences between Seoul and Tokyo, as their relations have long been strained due primarily to disputes over shared history. The two sides agreed to maintain "close communication" to resolve pending issues, according to Cho's ministry.

Meanwhile, Sherman had a separate meeting with Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Dmytro Senik, who was also visiting Seoul this week. The deputy secretary "provided an update on U.S. assistance to Ukraine, including security, humanitarian and economic assistance, as well as budgetary support and aid for long-term efforts," the State Department said in a statement.


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