October 19, 2017 – Senior officials of South Korea, Japan and the United States last night agreed to make concerted diplomatic efforts to peacefully resolve the crisis over North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats.
The agreement was reached at a meeting in Seoul among South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung Nam, Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Shinsuke Sugiyama and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan.
“(We) reaffirmed the goal of completely scrapping North Korea’s nuclear weapons by peaceful means and agreed to maintain close trilateral cooperation in making all possible diplomatic efforts, including sanctions and dialogue,” Lim said during a joint press conference held after the meeting.
He stressed the importance of making further efforts to persuade North Korea to take part in talks on resolving the crisis.
“While putting pressure on the North Korean government to make it change strategic calculations on its nuclear and missile programs, we should also send a message that a new future would open if it changes its mind and strategic calculations,” Lim said.
Sugiyama said the three senior diplomats agreed that their governments should intensify pressure on North Korea in such a way as it changes its policies and comes to the negotiating table.
Sullivan cautioned that while diplomacy is the “primary means” to address the threats posed by North Korea, “we need to be prepared to respond to any eventuality given the unpredictable nature of the regime in Pyongyang.”
Earlier Wednesday, Sugiyama met with South Korea’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung Wha, who stressed the need for the three countries to work together to achieve the goal of completely denuclearizing North Korea by peaceful means.
Sugiyama also underscored the importance of maintaining communication and cooperation among the three countries to that end.
The three countries’ chief delegates to the now suspended six-party talks on North Korea’s denuclearization also held consultations in Seoul on Wednesday.
Lee Do Hoon, South Korea’s special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, met with Joseph Yun, U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, and Kenji Kanasugi, director general of the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau.
“The representatives from the three countries reconfirmed the common goal of using all available means, including pressure and dialogue, in achieving North Korea’s complete denuclearization by peaceful means,” the South Korean Foreign Ministry said in a brief statement.
The six-party talks involving the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia have been deadlocked since late 2008. North Korea pulled out of the talks in 2009, protesting condemnation at the United Nations of its nuclear and missile programs.