Japanese, U.S. and S. Korean officials condemn the North’s weapons

Tokyo –

Senior officials from Japan, the United States, and South Korea have condemned North Korea for its recent intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch, stressed the need for dialogue with North Korea, and vowed to strengthen trilateral cooperation to strengthen deterrence and sanctions against North Korea.

The talks between the two in Karuizawa on Thursday came days after North Korea launched a solid-fuel ICBM last week that landed off the west coast of northern Hokkaido, and a day after two missiles were launched on Wednesday.

U.S. special envoy for North Korea Sung Kim also said the U.S. was “working hard” to collect information about a U.S. soldier who fled to North Korea earlier this month. Kim said the US was trying to ensure his safety and bring him home.

Private Travis King, 23, was detained in South Korea on assault charges and was released on July 10 after serving his sentence. He was taken to the airport on Monday but did not board his flight home. Instead, he took a tourist trip to the border and rushed to the North Korean side.

Kim said he would also discuss a summit scheduled in the United States next month with Takehiro Funakoshi, director-general of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau of Japan’s Foreign Ministry, and Kim Gunn, South Korea’s special envoy for peace and security on the Korean Peninsula.

In his opening remarks, Japan’s Funakoshi said the Japanese government is looking to further strengthen trilateral security cooperation to strengthen deterrence and tighten sanctions against North Korea’s missile development in violation of the Knighton United Security Council Resolution. But he also stressed the need for dialogue with North Korea.

He reiterated that Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was prepared to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “without any preconditions” to resolve the decades-old North Korean abduction issue.

Sung Kim said the US had “no hostile intentions” and was “ready and happy to come to the negotiating table to overcome its differences.”

South Korea’s Kim said the three officials confirmed their intentions for dialogue with North Korea while discussing ways to strengthen “closer communication to put North Korea back on its path to denuclearization and encourage China to play a constructive role.”

Referring to the start of nuclear talks between South Korea and the United States that began this week, he said North Korea had “undermined its own security” while attempts to intimidate its allies have only strengthened the two countries’ cooperation on nuclear deterrence.

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