Vice minister seeks to boost ties with U.S. and Japan

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Vice minister seeks to boost ties with U.S. and Japan

South Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung-nam agreed to bolster trilateral cooperation for Pyongyang’s denuclearization in a meeting with his U.S. and Japanese counterparts on Thursday in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Lim held a joint press conference with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Shinsuke Sugiyama after the three met for talks, during which they condemned North Korea for its nuclear and missile provocations and backed international sanctions against the regime.

Lim said, “We have agreed to further strengthen our trilateral cooperation and policy coordination to counter these repeated provocations.” He added that should Pyongyang engage in further provocations, the three countries agreed to take on “additional measures leading to tougher sanctions and further isolation of North Korea.”

The trilateral meeting comes amid tough sanctions on North Korea for its fourth nuclear and ballistic missile provocations and the announcement of Seoul and Washington’s decision to deploy the of U.S.-led Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) system, which has led to a strong backlash from Beijing and Moscow who say it will hurt their security interests.

It also comes after the recent South China Sea ruling by an international tribunal in The Hague on Tuesday, which determined Beijing had no legal basis for its historical claim over the waters or its resources. The ruling was strongly protested by China.

Blinken lauded the decision while emphasizing that the move to deploy the Thaad anti-ballistic missile battery to the U.S. Forces Korea is “not aimed at a third country,” according to the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday.

Lim held separate bilateral talks with Binken on Wednesday, and they “noted with appreciation” that Seoul and Washington made a decision to deploy the Thaad system to Korea “as a self-defensive measure” against Pyongyang. Their decision was based on a “common understanding” that the deployment will help improve their “combined defense capability.”

Lim stressed the importance of advancing Seoul and Tokyo’s relations, and the need to implement the Dec. 28 agreement concerning Japanese wartime sexual slavery.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]
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