S. Korea's vice FM heads to Japan for talks with U.S., Japan amid 'grim' regional security situation
By Chang Dong-woo
SEOUL, Oct. 25 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's vice foreign minister said Tuesday the regional security situation is "grim" following the end of China's key party congress, with North Korea's provocations unrelenting, as he headed to Tokyo for consultations with his American and Japanese counterparts.
"The geopolitical situation in Northeast Asia is grim amid North Korea's series of provocations and after the end of the Chinese Communist Party Congress," First Vice Foreign Minister Cho Hyun-dong told reporters just before his departure at Gimpo International Airport in Seoul.
Such a regional security situation and issues arising from global challenges will be discussed in upcoming talks in Tokyo, he added.
He is scheduled to hold one-on-one meetings with his U.S. and Japanese counterparts -- Wendy Sherman and Takeo Mori -- later in the day, with a plan for three-way talks on Wednesday. They had the previous trilateral meeting in Seoul in June.
This week's session comes amid growing concerns that the Kim Jong-un regime may soon conduct another nuclear test and carry out additional provocative acts.
Officials here say the secretive North is apparently all set for its first nuclear test since September 2017.
South Korea's National Intelligence Service said the North may carry out its seventh nuclear test between Oct. 16 and Nov. 7, after the National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party and before the U.S. midterm elections. President Xi Jinping secured a third term during the party meeting.
Cho said he and Sherman will discuss ways for the strengthening of the U.S. extended deterrence against growing North Korean threats and concerns about the impact of the Joe Biden administration's Inflation Reduction Act on bilateral trade.
Regarding a planned meeting with Mori, Cho added he expects to have a broad range of discussions on pending bilateral issues, including a protracted row over Japan's wartime forced labor.
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