By Byun Duk-kun
WASHINGTON, June 1 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin discussed ways to expand trilateral cooperation between the United States, South Korea and Japan while meeting with top Japanese officials Thursday, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.
Austin met with Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada and Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi in Tokyo.
"The secretary reemphasized with Minister Hayashi the unwavering U.S. commitment to the defense of Japan under the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security, including U.S. extended deterrence backed by the full range of conventional and nuclear capabilities," defense department spokesperson Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said of the meeting in a press release.
"Furthermore, the leaders discussed opportunities to expand trilateral cooperation with the Republic of Korea on a range of issues, including by expanding information sharing," he added.
The meeting came one day after North Korea launched what it claims to be its first military spy satellite in a failed attempt that ended with its claimed satellite falling into the Yellow Sea.
The U.S. has increasingly been emphasizing the importance of trilateral cooperation between the U.S. and its two Northeast Asian allies to deal with North Korea's evolving nuclear threats.
Pyongyang has fired some 80 ballistic missiles since the start of last year, and is anticipated to conduct what will be its seventh nuclear test in the near future.
U.S. President Joe Biden has reportedly proposed hosting a trilateral summit in Washington this summer with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
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