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Kerry highlights N.K. threats, Yun raises regional history issues

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Published : 2014-01-08 08:21
Updated : 2014-01-08 08:58

South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se(L) and US Secretary of State John Kerry smile while delivering remarks to the media in the Treaty Room of the US State Department after their private meeting, January 7, 2014, in Washington, DC. (AFP-Yonhap News)



South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and his American counterpart, John Kerry, agreed Tuesday that the allies will deal sternly with any future North Korean provocations.

Kerry warned that North Korea should not test the strength of the alliance.

"The United States and the Republic of Korea stand very firmly united without an inch of daylight between us -- not a sliver of daylight -- on the subject of opposition to North Korea's destabilizing nuclear and ballistic missile programs and proliferation activities, and the international community stands with us," he said after a one-hour talk with Yun here.

The secretary called for North Korea to choose the path of denuclearization.

"We will not accept North Korea as a nuclear state, nor as a nuclear-armed state," he said. "We will continue to modernize our capabilities so that we are prepared to face any threat."

Kerry said the Obama administration supports President Park Geun-hye's "firm, principled approach" toward North Korea.

Standing next to him, the South Korean minister also said they reviewed "the serious recent developments" in the secretive communist nation. He was apparently referring to the purging and execution of Jang Song-thaek, the once-powerful uncle of leader Kim Jong-un.

"In the event of any North Korean provocation, South Korea and the United States will firmly respond based on our robust combined defense posture," he said in English.

Yun said he raised the sensitive issue of history disputes in Northeast Asia that have deepened since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit last month to Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine, linked with the nation's wartime past.

"I pointed out that historical issues stand in the way of reconciliation and cooperation in the region. And I emphasized the need for sincere actions (by Japan)," he said. "The secretary and I agreed to strengthen our efforts to alleviate tension and promote peace and cooperation in Northeast Asia."

Both Yun and Kerry read their own statements to summarize the results of their discussions. They did not take any questions during the 15-minute joint press availability.

Kerry did not mention the history issue.

He just voiced optimism over the future of the alliance. 

"The relationship between our two nations has always shown its ability to be able to adapt, to face new challenges," Kerry said.

"And it is clear that the foundations of this relationship are built to endure."

He pointed out Yun is the first foreign minister to meet in Washington in the new year, adding it reflects the strength of the two nations.  (Yonhap News)

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