US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman says the United States, Japan and South Korea stand “shoulder-to-shoulder” when it comes to North Korea, despite recent friction in relations between the two Koreas.
“That close coordination sends a very critical message to North Korea in that we are together and shoulder-to-shoulder in our approach to this policy,” Sherman was quoted as saying on Wednesday, after the conclusion of trilateral talks held in the Japanese capital, Tokyo.
Meanwhile, Takeo Mori, Japan’s vice foreign minister, reiterated support for the policy and said cooperation with the United States was crucial for the denuclearization of North Korea. Mori warned North Korea’s “next move is unpredictable.”
Coming from Seoul to Tokyo, Choi Jong-kun, South Korea’s vice foreign minister, said the work to address concerns about North Korea’s nuclear capability was a “long game” that would require patience and cooperation.
The commitment to remain united over North Korea stands in some contrast to the fact that Japan and South Korea have been at odds over Japan’s historic intervention in Korea.
South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in recently abandoned a planned trip to Tokyo during the Summer Olympics over an insult from a senior diplomat at Japan’s embassy in Seoul.
Since US President Joe Biden assumed office in January, North Korea has turned down invitations coming from the White House to restart negotiations.
In June, North Korea’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Ri Son-gwon declared that the country is “not considering even the possibility of any contact with the US.”
President Kim Jong-un of North Korea has refused to give up his nuclear weapons, but he has imposed a freeze on testing those arms.
North Korea says it needs to develop its missiles and nuclear weapons as a deterrent in the face of the United States and its allies in the region, where the US has permanent military presence. Both South Korea and Japan host US military bases.