Key six-party nations work to pressure PyongyangAdditional measures will be taken against North Korea should it decide to conduct a fifth nuclear test, said Seoul, Tokyo and Washington in a joint press conference on Tuesday following a three-way vice foreign ministerial meeting.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that if North Korea continues its provocations, the United Nations Security Council resolution adopted unanimously last month calls for “additional measures,” but added that China, as a leader in the drafting of the resolution, also plays an important role in its implementation.
A trilateral vice ministerial meeting, the third of its kind over the past year, was held in Seoul ahead of the conference between South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung-nam, Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Akitaka Saiki and Blinken in order to emphasize trilateral cooperation and discuss the implementation of the UN resolution on Pyongyang, as well as coordinated unilateral sanctions.
Blinken, in the joint conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that followed their meeting, called the dialogue their “most productive meeting yet” and emphasized that the “trilateral partnership is stronger than it has ever been.”
However, Blinken also pointed that if North Korea is prepared to “engage seriously,” then Washington is also prepared to engage, citing Washington’s changed relationships with Cuba, Iran and Myanmar.
Lim, condemning Pyongyang for its launch of an intermediate-range ballistic missile on Friday, which ended in failure, said the trilateral dialogue came at “an opportune time for us to talk about trilateral actions” against the North.
He called resolving the North Korea issue one of “utmost urgency and significance to our three nations,” saying they had agreed to step up trilateral cooperation on the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 2270, and also called for solidarity with China and Russia.
Saiki pointed out that North Korea should not engage in additional provocations, and if it does, stronger measures must be taken by the international community that could include “clearing up so-called loopholes” in the UN resolution.
Cho Tae-yong, deputy chief of the National Security Office, will hold separate bilateral strategic talks with Blinken on Wednesday.
South Korea has been working in close cooperation with key six-party countries to continue to exert pressure on North Korea concerning its additional provocations.
The three countries’ leaders, President Park Geun-hye, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Barack Obama held a trilateral summit in Washington on March 31 on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit as they vowed to bolster trilateral security cooperation to deter Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile threat.
President Park warned Monday that Pyongyang may be preparing for a fifth nuclear test.
This follows North Korea’s fourth nuclear test in January and subsequent long-range missile launch leading to the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 2270 in March.
North Korea failed to launch an intermediate-range ballistic missile on Friday morning.
BY SARAH KIM [email@example.com]