By Byun Duk-kun
WASHINGTON, June 29 (Yonhap) -- U.S. President Joe Biden reiterated U.S. commitment to the defense of South Korea and Japan while meeting with the leaders of the allied countries in Madrid on Wednesday, the White House said.
In a three-way summit with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Biden also highlighted the importance of the countries' trilateral cooperation in dealing with threats posed by North Korea.
"This was a historic trilateral meeting in which the three leaders discussed enhancing trilateral cooperation throughout the Indo-Pacific, particularly in regard to addressing the evolving threat posed by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs," the White House said of the summit, referring to North Korea by its official name.
"They also followed up on their detailed and productive conversations in Seoul and Tokyo last month. President Biden underscored the United States' unshakable commitment to the defense of both Japan and the Republic of Korea," the White House added.
The trilateral summit, the first of its kind since September 2017, was held on the sidelines of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in the Spanish capital.
It came amid concerns over a possible North Korean nuclear test.
Officials in Seoul and Washington have said the North appears to have completed all preparations for what will be its seventh nuclear test, and that the country may only be waiting for the right timing.
Pyongyang has so far fired 31 ballistic missiles this year, already marking the largest number of ballistic missile tests conducted in a year, according to U.S. officials.
Biden said he remained "deeply concerned" over North Korea's escalatory actions and possible nuclear test.
"I look forward to additional dialogues in this format as we continue to strengthen our trilateral engagement," he said at the top of his three-way meeting with Yoon and Kishida.
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