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S. Korea, US, Japan concur on 'stern' response to NK-Russia arms deal

Feb. 23, 2024 - 13:25 By Lee Jung-joo
South Korean Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul (right), US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (center) and Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa (left) attend a trilateral meeting on the margins of the G20 foreign ministers meeting, in Rio de Janeiro, Thursday. (Foreign Ministry)

The foreign ministers of South Korea, the United States and Japan agreed on the need for a firm response to North Korea's provision of arms to Russia for its war against Ukraine, as well as on enhancing cooperation to address North Korean threats, South Korea's Foreign Ministry said Friday.

South Korean Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa held a trilateral meeting Thursday on the sidelines of the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Rio De Janeiro.

The three top diplomats agreed to "continue to sternly respond" to the military cooperation between Russia and North Korea in coordination with the international community, the Foreign Ministry in Seoul said in a statement.

The three emphasized that such cooperation "poses a serious threat not only to the Korean Peninsula but also to international peace and stability."

The Foreign Ministry said the ministers also assessed that the security cooperation among Seoul, Washington and Tokyo has been "significantly strengthened to effectively respond to the escalating nuclear and missile threats from North Korea."

"They agreed to further enhance the response capabilities of the three countries this year based on last year's achievement including the operation of a real-time data-sharing system for North Korean missile warnings," according to the ministry.

Additionally, the three ministers agreed to enhance trilateral cooperation aimed at preventing the illicit acquisition of funds for nuclear and missile programs, which includes addressing North Korea's illegal cyber activities. They also committed to strengthening cooperation to promote human rights within North Korea.

The three top diplomats also "reflected on the tremendous progress made since the historic Camp David Summit to institutionalize trilateral cooperation and discussed ongoing and future efforts to support one another’s respective Indo-Pacific strategies," US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said Thursday in a statement.

During the meeting, the three ministers noted the growing need for closer collaboration over shared security challenges.

“With growing regional challenges, including North Korea’s provocative actions and military cooperation with Russia, and increasingly assertive actions by China, cooperation and coordination with our closest allies is more important than ever,” Blinken said, according to a press statement released by the US State Department.

Kamikawa also said, "Our strategic coordination is more important than ever," according to the US State Department.

"Looking at the global landscape, the free and open international order, based on the rule of law, is now being challenged. It is already two years since Russia’s aggression against Ukraine started. Our strategic coordination is more important than ever," she said.

The three countries also agreed to closer alignment in dealing with North Korean issues as well as regional and global challenges, given that Seoul, Washington and Tokyo are concurrently serving as members of the UN Security Council this year for the first time in 27 years in 2024, according to South Korea's Foreign Ministry.

The US State Department said three ministers also discussed efforts to maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

The trilateral foreign ministers' meeting marks their seventh since the inauguration of the Yoon Suk Yeol government in May 2022. This meeting occurred approximately three months after the previous trilateral meeting held on the sidelines of the APEC Ministerial Meeting in November last year.

Moreover, the meeting on Thursday was the first since Foreign Minister Cho's assumption of office in January.