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Seoul, Tokyo, Washington top nuclear envoys affirm readiness to 'all contingencies' on NK provocations

Kim Gunn, Seoul's special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs (right), hold hands with Sung Kim, Washington's special representative for North Korea (left), and Takehiro Funakoshi, director general for Asian and Oceanian affairs at Japan’s Foreign Ministry before their trilateral talk at the Japanese Foreign Ministry in Tokyo, Japan, Wednesday. (Yonhap)
Kim Gunn, Seoul's special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs (right), hold hands with Sung Kim, Washington's special representative for North Korea (left), and Takehiro Funakoshi, director general for Asian and Oceanian affairs at Japan’s Foreign Ministry before their trilateral talk at the Japanese Foreign Ministry in Tokyo, Japan, Wednesday. (Yonhap)

The top nuclear envoys of South Korea, Japan and the United States reaffirmed the countries' commitment to their shared goal of complete denuclearization of North Korea, and joint efforts to deter the regime's nuclear provocations, at a meeting held Wednesday on Tokyo.

The three officials, Kim Gunn, Seoul's special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, Sung Kim, Washington's special representative for North Korea, and Takehiro Funakoshi, director general for Asian and Oceanian affairs at Japan’s Foreign Ministry also vowed to maintain a united front against Pyongyang's nuclear threats, to adjust their joint military posture accordingly.

"A nuclear test would be a grave escalation, threaten regional and international peace and security, and undermine the global non-proliferation regime," Sung Kim said at the outset of the meeting with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts.

"We are preparing for all contingencies in close coordination with our Japan and South Korea allies and we are prepared to make short and long-term adjustments to our military posture in responding to the DPRK provocation," the US envoy added, referring to North Korea by the acronym of its official name, Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

While noting their goal will remain complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, Kim also reaffirmed Washington's willingness to resume dialogue with Pyongyang "without preconditions."

South Korean representative Kim Gunn said they will take swift and stern measures against any provocations by North Korea and stressed the importance of the trilateral cooperation.

The Korean envoy also explained the Korean government's current North Korea policy of "audacious initiative" that promises economic benefits to Pyongyang in return for its steps toward denuclearization.

Japan's nuclear envoy said Tokyo "values and appreciates that our three countries share a basic policy on North Korea including the goal towards the complete denuclearization of North Korea."

In the three-way meeting, the envoys exchanged their assessment of the security situation on the Korean Peninsula and discussed measures for North Korea’s denuclearization.

Pyongyang is seen to have completed the necessary preparations to carry out what would be its seventh nuclear test. The regime conducted its sixth and the last nuclear test in September 2017.

According to Seoul's Foreign Ministry, Kim Gunn held bilateral talks with the respective counterparts of Japan and the US before their trilateral meeting in the afternoon.

In a regular press briefing Tuesday (US time) US State Department Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel reaffirmed Washington's commitment to bring "complete denuclearization" of the Korean Peninsula, stressing how North Korea's nuclear program was "deeply problematic" and "destabilizing."

"So both a North Korea with a nuclear weapon and an Iran with a nuclear weapon are things that we view as deeply problematic and destabilizing, not just for the world but for their respective regions as well," Patel said.

"And that is why, as it relates to the DPRK, we continue to push for a complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and we’re going to continue to stress our commitment to dialogue with the DPRK, without preconditions, while we’ll also take all necessary actions that we need to to address the threat of Pyongyang that it could pose not just on the United States but on its allies and partners as well," the spokesperson added.

Patel also explained that the US Special representative for the DPRK was meeting Korean and Japanese counterparts in Tokyo to specifically discuss possible countermeasures they could jointly take in case North Korea conducts its 7th nuclear test.

Wednesday's meetings come on the heels of a trilateral meeting of the security chiefs last week, where the three countries vowed to bolster cooperation to deter Pyongyang's nuclear ambition.

In Honolulu last week, the national security advisers of South Korea, Japan and the US met to agree on bolstering joint efforts to deter North Korea's nuclear program.

South Korea’s national security adviser Kim Sung-han said the three countries agreed to "maximize joint our joint efforts together with international society to make sure the North understands that its seventh nuclear test is a clear mistake."

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)

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