The top diplomats of South Korea, the US and Japan talked in Indonesia where they agreed to step up cooperation against North Korea’s threats and make efforts to resume dialogue with Pyongyang, Seoul’s foreign ministry said.
South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin held his first tripartite meeting with his US and Japanese counterparts, Antony Blinken and Yoshimasa Hayashi, on the resort island of Bali, on the margins of the Group of 20 meeting that was held from Thursday to Friday, Yonhap news agency reported.
“The three ministers shared the view that North Korea’s nuclear and missile threat is a pressing issue that needs to be dealt with as a priority by South Korea, the US and Japan,” the ministry said in a statement.
“(They) agreed to make efforts to bring a united, firm response from the global community against North Korea’s provocation and closely coordinate based on a flexible, open diplomatic approach to bring (Pyongyang) back to dialogue,” it added.
The U.S. Department of State later said Blinken and his South Korean and Japanese counterparts discussed ways to expand security cooperation between their three countries.
“The secretary and foreign ministers condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s unlawful ballistic missile launches and discussed how to expand trilateral security cooperation,” it said in a press release, referring to North Korea by its official name.
“The secretary reiterated the United States’ commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and immediate resolution of the abductions issue,” it added.
The trio also reaffirmed the importance of trilateral cooperation to address emerging regional and global challenges and pursue “future-oriented cooperation” to promote peace, security and prosperity in the region, the South Korean foreign ministry said.
It marks their first in-person group session since the inauguration in May of South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, who emphasized bolstering the alliance with Washington and expressed willingness to mend soured ties with Tokyo.
Their gathering took place after leaders of the three countries met in Madrid on the sidelines of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit and agreed to bolster their security cooperation against North Korea amid concerns over the reclusive regime’s preparations for a nuclear test.
The Friday meeting began 30 minutes later than the scheduled time and the ministers expressed condolences for former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was killed in a gun attack while giving an election campaign speech earlier in the day.
Park strongly condemned the shooting as “a violent criminal act that is unacceptable in any case,” and Blinken mourned Abe as “a leader with great vision” who boosted relations between the two allies.