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Top diplomats from South Korea, US, Japan hold talks on North Korea, other regional issues

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Top diplomats from South Korea, Japan and the United States hold trilateral talks on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, on September 22, 2021. (Photo by Yonhap news agency)

Senior diplomats from the United States, South Korea, and Japan have met to discuss North Korea and other regional issues in the wake of a series of missile tests by Pyongyang. 

The meeting held Wednesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York was attended by South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong, Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said the three reaffirmed their commitment to deal with various regional issues, such as the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, as well as other global matters such as climate change.

"The secretary and the foreign ministers highlighted the global scope of US-Japan-ROK cooperation based upon our shared values, as well as our commitment to preserving and promoting regional peace, stability and prosperity," he said in a press briefing.

"The discussion included ways to deepen cooperation between our countries through multilateral efforts to tackle the pressing global challenges, such as combating the climate crisis and securing supply chains," he added.

He went on to say that Blinken has reaffirmed Washington's commitment to continued consultation and cooperation with its two allies toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

The meeting came after North Korea fired two ballistic missiles off its east coast earlier this month and South Korea has successfully test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) for the first time just hours after.

Washington condemned the North Korean test as a threat to its neighbors, saying it was "in violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions.” However, it did not mention anything about Seoul’s test.

North Korea accused the United States of applying double standards in its approaches to the two Koreas' military activities and held Washington’s duplicity responsible for stalled nuclear talks.

The two sides have held unprecedented talks under former US president Donald Trump aimed at dismantling Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs in return for Washington’s sanctions relief.

Trump, however, refused to relieve any of the sanctions against the North in return for several steps taken by Pyongyang toward denuclearization. That hampered further diplomacy and prompted Kim to announce an end to a moratorium on North Korea's missile tests.

Last week, Sung Kim, the US special envoy for North Korea said that Washington is open to diplomacy with Pyongyang.

The latest meeting also came after South Korean President Moon Jae-in called for efforts to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War in his address to the UN General Assembly this week.

Earlier in the day, John Kirby, spokesman for the US Department of Defense, also said that the US is open to discussions on the possibility of declaring a formal end to the Korean War.

South Korea, which has been advancing its military power including its missile capabilities, has now become the world's seventh country to have developed SLBM technology.

The North has also unveiled a series of new SLBMs in recent years.

South and North Korea cite one another's military developments as the reason for boosting their capabilities

The US and South Korea depict the North's missile and nuclear programs as a threat, while Pyongyang says the substantial US military presence on the peninsula threatens its national security.

The North has also been strongly critical of the joint Washington-Seoul spring and summer drills, saying the hostile exercises are a rehearsal for an invasion.


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