South Korea, U.S., Japan condemn N.Korea missile tests, urge talks

  • North Korean missile tests ‘serious and illegal’, allies say
  • US, South Korea and Japan strengthen defense cooperation
  • Experts and officials say the North is planning a nuclear test
  • North urged to accept help with COVID

SEOUL, June 8 (Reuters) – North Korea’s missile tests are “serious and unlawful” provocations, senior South Korean, U.S. and Japanese officials said on Wednesday as they urged it to resume the dialogue and to accept help in the fight against COVID-19. 19.

South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Cho Hyun-dong, US Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman and Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Takeo Mori issued the criticisms when they met in Seoul days later. that North Korea has conducted its final missile tests and with signs that it is preparing what will be its first nuclear test since 2017. read more

The three-way meeting of the country’s second-most senior diplomats, the first of its kind since November and the first since President Yoon Suk-yeol took office in South Korea in May, has highlighted international concern over North Korea’s intensified weapons testing.

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The three countries urged North Korea to abide by international sanctions and immediately cease actions that “raise tensions or destabilize the region”, they said in a statement.

They also pledged to intensify their security cooperation to deal with threats from the North, with Sherman reaffirming US defense commitments, including “extended deterrence”, meaning the ability of the US military, in particular its nuclear forces, to deter attacks against allies.

“They stressed that a path to serious and sustained dialogue remains open and urged the DPRK to resume negotiations, while expressing their hope that the DPRK will respond positively to international offers of assistance to combat COVID-19.” , they said, referring to North Korea by the initials of its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

North Korea first confirmed a coronavirus outbreak last month.

It has reported more than 4.2 million people suffering from fever among its 25 million population. It lacks COVID testing capacity and has not specified how many coronavirus cases it has.

South Korea and the United States have both offered help to North Korea with COVID, but said they have not responded.

TESTING TIME

North Korea has conducted at least 18 rounds of weapons tests this year, highlighting developments in its nuclear and missile arsenals.

In its latest test, it fired eight short-range ballistic missiles, likely its largest single launch, a day after South Korea and the United States ended joint military exercises involving a US aircraft carrier . Read more

The allies launched eight surface-to-surface missiles on Monday in their own show of force in response to the North’s test. Read more

South Korea’s Yoon, who took office in May, and US President Joe Biden pledged at a recent summit to deploy more US strategic military assets to bolster extended deterrence.

Yoon expressed serious concerns about the North’s testing and vowed to respond harshly to “unlawful actions” but would leave the door open for dialogue, his office said on Wednesday.

He made the comment during a video call with Nguyen Phu Trong, leader of Vietnam’s Communist Party who has long-standing ties to North Korea, asking him to help him negotiate.

Yoon’s deputy national security adviser Shin In-ho said the government would come up with “fundamental measures to virtually neutralize” threats from North Korea.

South Korean officials said the North had been experimenting with a detonation device in preparation for its seventh underground nuclear explosion, which Sherman said would trigger a loud and clear response. Read more

A test could take place as early as next week, before a plenary meeting of the North Korean Workers’ Party central committee, some analysts said. North Korea conducted nuclear tests in 2013 and 2017, just before committee meetings.

Sherman reiterated an American offer of talks.

“The United States remains ready to meet with the DPRK without preconditions and we reiterate again, we have no hostile intent toward the DPRK,” she told a news conference.

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Reporting by Hyonhee Shin, Joori Roh and Soo-hyang Choi; Editing by Lincoln Feast, Robert Birsel

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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