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S. Korea, Australia urge N. Korea to return to dialogue 'without preconditions'

(From L to R) Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton, Foreign Minister Marise Payne, South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong and Defense Minister Suh Wook attend a press conference after holding
(From L to R) Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton, Foreign Minister Marise Payne, South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong and Defense Minister Suh Wook attend a press conference after holding "two plus two" ministerial talks in this pool photo taken on Monday. (Yonhap)
South Korea and Australia have urged North Korea to return to talks "without preconditions," stressing that diplomacy and dialogue are essential to bringing peace on the Korean Peninsula.

The two countries made the call in a joint statement adopted following the biennial "two plus two" talks of foreign and defense ministers that took place in Seoul on Monday.

The talks came amid renewed concerns after the North test-fired a new type of long-range cruise missiles over the weekend and signs of its reactivation of a plutonium-producing nuclear reactor.

"The four ministers welcomed the commitment of the United States and the ROK in pursuing diplomacy with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and urged the DPRK to engage in meaningful dialogue without preconditions," said the statement released Tuesday.

DPRK is the North's official name. The ROK stands for the Republic of Korea, the South's official name.

"Ministers reaffirmed their ongoing support for dialogue and diplomacy ... and emphasized that these are essential to the complete denuclearization and establishment of permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula," it said.

Regarding the North's nuclear and ballistic missile programs, they reaffirmed the importance of "faithfully implementing" relevant UN Security Council resolutions banning the regime from conducting such tests.

On bilateral cooperation, the two sides agreed to strengthen the partnership in a future-oriented manner in a wide range of areas, including pandemic responses, post-COVID-19 economic recovery, climate change and trade.

The two countries also agreed to formalize or newly establish bilateral policy dialogues on cyber and space technologies, and continue to work together to reach each country's respective greenhouse gas reduction and carbon neutrality targets.

They also emphasized the importance of working closely to enhance COVID-19 vaccine access and delivery, including in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, and reaffirmed commitment to further cooperation to increase the global vaccine supply, according to the statement. (Yonhap)

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