Senate affirms cooperation with Korea, Japan

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Senate affirms cooperation with Korea, Japan

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday passed a resolution on the importance of U.S. alliances with South Korea and Japan and their trilateral cooperation in the pursuit of shared interests and North Korean denuclearization.

The bipartisan resolution says the three countries are committed toward the common goal of a North Korea that “does not threaten global peace and security with its weapons of mass destruction, missile proliferation, and illicit activities,” where Pyongyang “respects human rights and its people can live in freedom.”

It added that its alliances with Seoul and Tokyo “are the foundation of regional stability in Asia, including against the threat posed by the regime in Pyongyang.”

The resolution also calls for their cooperation with the United Nations Security Council “to fully and effectively enforce sanctions” against North Korea and “evaluate additional and meaningful new measures.”

The resolution, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado and Democratic Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, was first introduced on Feb. 12, ahead of the second North-U.S. summit in Hanoi, Vietnam. The House of Representatives has also introduced a similar resolution on trilateral cooperation.

The resolution calls to “strengthen high-level trilateral mechanisms for discussion and coordination of policy toward North Korea,” and stresses the “importance of trilateral defense cooperation and enforcement of multilateral sanctions” against the North.

It also emphasizes the importance of a “constructive and forward-looking relationship” between Seoul and Tokyo for trilateral cooperation on “diplomatic, economic, and security interests and for open and inclusive architecture to support the development of a secure, stable, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.”

The resolution highlights that the three countries share values and interests, including freedom, democracy and free market economics, and are “indispensable partners in tackling global challenges,” including promoting human rights.

“The message is [...] that we need to continue to work together to reach the common objective,” said Republican Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told the Voice of America on Wednesday after the resolution passed. “And the common objective is the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

Risch, addressing the ongoing diplomatic tensions between Seoul and Tokyo, said, “The frictions are there over a long period of time, but the objective is to get past those to get to the bottom line, the major objective,” which is “denuclearization.” He added “you can’t ignore the fact that the frictions are there,” but that “doesn’t mean you can’t work on” the differences.

Kim In-chul, spokesman of the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in a briefing Thursday that the U.S. Senate resolution “shows the U.S. Congress’ view on the importance of the Korea-U.S. and U.S.-Japan alliance and cooperation between the three countries to achieve peace and prosperity in the region including the Korean Peninsula.”

He continued, “Our government’s position is that we will continue South Korea-U.S.-Japan cooperation to establish complete denuclearization and permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met last week in Washington. Robert Palladino, the U.S. State Department spokesman, said on Tuesday on the talks that, “We’re in close coordination with our allies - Republic of Korea, as well as Japan - and all future actions are something that we do in close coordination.”

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