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US, Japan, South Korea meet in Hawaii to discuss North Korea

HONOLULU (AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met his Japanese and South Korean counterparts Saturday in Hawaii to discuss the threat posed by a nuclear-armed North Korea after Pyongyang began the year with a series of tests. rocket.

Blinken said at a news conference after the meeting that North Korea was “in a provocative phase” and that the three countries condemned the recent missile launches.

“We are completely united in our approach and determination,” Blinken said after talks with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong.

He said the countries had “consulted very closely” on next steps they could take to deal with North Korea, but gave no specifics.

The three sides issued a joint statement calling on North Korea to engage in dialogue and stop “illegal activities”. They say they have no hostile intentions towards North Korea and are willing to meet Pyongyang without preconditions.

Hayashi later told Japanese reporters that the three ministers had “very productive” discussions on North Korea. He declined to provide details on additional measures they might take.

North Korea has a long history of using provocative actions such as missile or nuclear tests to seek international concessions. The latest tests come as North Korea’s economy, already battered by decades of mismanagement and US-led sanctions, is being hit hard by the shutdown of the pandemic. border gate.

Many see the tests as an attempt to pressure the administration of President Joe Biden to relax sanctions. The Biden administration has shown unwillingness to do so without meaningful cuts to North Korea’s nuclear program, but it has offered open-ended negotiations.

North Korea has rejected a US offer to resume diplomacy, saying it will not return to talks unless Washington drops what it sees as a hostile policy. North Korea opposes both sanctions and regular military exercises that the US has imposed on South Korea.

The tests also have a technical component, allowing North Korea to hone its arsenal. One of the recently tested missiles – the Hwasong-12 medium-range ballistic missile – is capable of reaching the US territory of Guam. It is the longest-range weapon North Korea has tested since 2017.

North Korea appears to be pausing tests during the Winter Olympics in China, its most important ally and economic lifeline. But analysts believe North Korea will dramatically increase weapons testing after the Olympics.

Recent tests have worried Pyongyang’s neighbors South Korea and Japan. South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who helped set up historic talks between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and former President Donald Trump in 2018 and 2019, last month said the tests were illegal. violated a United Nations Security Council resolution and called on North Korea to stop “acts that create tension and pressure.”

The Security Council initially imposed sanctions on North Korea after its first nuclear test in 2006. It made it tougher on further nuclear tests as well as its nuclear programs and the country’s increasingly sophisticated ballistic missiles.

China and Russia, citing North Korea’s economic difficulties, have called for the lifting of sanctions such as a ban on seafood exports and a ban on their citizens from working abroad and sending their earnings home. .

Blinken traveled to Hawaii from Fiji, where he met Acting Prime Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and other Pacific leaders to discuss regional issues, especially the existential threat posed by climate change. This is the first visit by a US secretary of state to Fiji since 1985.

He began his Pacific tour in Australia, where he met colleagues from Australia, India and Japan. The four countries form the “Quad”, a bloc of Indo-Pacific democracies established to counter China’s regional influence.

Hayashi and Chung held a separate bilateral meeting on Saturday for about 40 minutes before meeting Blinken. Japan’s foreign ministry said it reaffirmed the importance of working together with and with the United States to deal with North Korea and achieve regional stability.

The ministry said it also “frankly” exchanged views on ongoing disputes between the two countries, including wartime Korean labor and the sexual abuse of South Korean women forced by the Japanese imperial army. sex slavery.

South Korea’s foreign ministry said in a statement that Chung suggested the two countries speed up diplomacy to find a resolution to their differences.

Blinken also met Chung personally. He met Hayashi earlier this week in Australia.

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Associated Press writers Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo and Hyung-jin Kim in Seoul contributed to this report.

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https://www.winknews.com/2022/02/13/us-japan-south-korea-meet-in-hawaii-to-discuss-north-korea/ US, Japan, South Korea meet in Hawaii to discuss North Korea

Tom Vazquez

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