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S. Korea, U.S., Japan agree to expand cooperation to deter N. Korean provocations

South Korea, the United States and Japan agreed to steadily strengthen trilateral defense cooperation to deter provocations by North Korea, Seoul's defense ministry said Saturday.

The agreement was reached during a meeting of the three countries' top defense officials held on the sidelines of the 11th Asia Security Summit, also known as the Shangri La Dialogue, in Singapore, the ministry said.

South Korea's Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Japan's Senior Vice Defense Minister Shu Watanabe attended the talks.

"The three ministers concurred that North Korea's continued provocations including its sinking of the ROK (South Korea) corvette Cheonan and shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in 2010, and its missile launch in April 2012, pose a serious threat to the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula, Northeast Asia, and the world," the ministers said in a joint statement.

"North Korea needs to understand that it will achieve nothing by threats or by provocations, and that such behavior will only deepen its international isolation."

The statement went on to say that the three ministers reaffirmed the April 16, 2012 Presidential Statement of the U.N.

Security Council, demanding that North Korea comply with its obligations under U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1718 and 1874, including that it abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs. The North tested nuclear devices in both 2006 and 2009, with the U.N. making clear that grave reciprocal action would be taken if the North continues to disregard international calls for restraint.

"They welcomed that the Security Council made clear its determination to take action in the event of a further North Korean launch or nuclear test. The ministers reaffirmed that North Korea's provocative behavior threatens all three countries and will be met with solidarity from all three countries," said the joint statement. "They agreed to continue to reinforce trilateral policy coordination in order to deter North Korean provocations."

The three ministers also agreed to reinforce trilateral collaboration for regional peace and stability and expand the scope of collaboration that includes humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, maritime security, protecting the freedom of navigation, and non-proliferation.

Seoul, Washington and Tokyo said they will formalize defense ministerial talks at future security summit meetings.

The summits are arranged by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) with the first meeting taking place in 2002. The gathering is attended by senior defense ministry officials and security specialists from 27 countries in Asia, North America and Europe. (Yonhap News)


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