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Defense chiefs of US, Australia, Japan decry NK-Russia military cooperation

May 4, 2024 - 10:39 By Yonhap
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin (left), Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles (center), and Japanese Minister of Defense Kihara Minoru convened a Trilateral Defense Ministerial Meeting at US Indo-Pacific Command headquarters, Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii on Thursday. (US Department of Defense)

The defense chiefs of the United States, Australia and Japan denounced growing military cooperation between North Korea and Russia, including their weapons transactions, during their trilateral talks in Hawaii this week, according to a joint statement released Friday.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and his Australian and Japanese counterparts, Richard Marles and Minoru Kihara, held the meeting on Thursday to discuss a range of regional and global issues, including North Korea, Russia's war in Ukraine, the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait.

"The ministers strongly condemn the increasing military cooperation between North Korea and Russia, including North Korea's export and Russia's procurement of North Korean ballistic missiles in violation of UNSC resolutions, as well as Russia's use of these missiles against Ukraine," the statement read.

UNSC is short for the UN Security Council.

Austin, Marles and Kihara also expressed concerns over Pyongyang's unceasing development of weapons.

"The ministers are deeply concerned about North Korea's nuclear and missile development," it said.

"They strongly condemn North Korea's repeated launches of missiles, including intercontinental ballistic missiles and other launches using ballistic missile technology, which are serious violations of UNSC resolutions."

In addition, they reiterated their commitment to working with the international community to address Pyongyang's "serious" threat to the region.

They renewed their call on North Korea to "immediately" resolve the abductions issue and cease its human rights violations.

On China, the defense chiefs stressed their "strong" opposition to any attempts by Beijing to "unilaterally change the status quo by force or coercion in the South and East China Seas."

"This includes concerning and destabilizing actions in the South China Sea, such as unsafe encounters at sea and in the air, the militarization of disputed features, and the dangerous use of coast guard vessels and maritime militia ... and efforts to disrupt other countries' offshore resource exploration," the statement read.

Moreover, they emphasized the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait while calling for the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues. (Yonhap)