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S. Korea, Japan cooperation critical to dealing with N. Korea, economic challenges: envoys

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol (left) US President Joe Biden (center) and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida attend a trilateral meeting on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Sunday. (Yonhap)
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol (left) US President Joe Biden (center) and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida attend a trilateral meeting on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Sunday. (Yonhap)

WASHINGTON-- South Korea and Japan must work closely together bilaterally and also trilaterally with the United States to deal with the various challenges at hand such as North Korean provocations and supply chain resiliency, the countries' top envoys in the US said Monday.

South Korean Ambassador to the US Cho Tae-yong said the Seoul government stands ready to strengthen its cooperation with the US and Japan.

Cho highlighted the importance of trilateral cooperation between the US, Japan and South Korea in dealing with provocative North Korea, while hailing joint anti-submarine warfare exercises the countries held last month in the wake of North Korea's intercontinental ballistic missile launch.

"This is a natural outcome of a more aligned threat perception," he said of the joint exercise while speaking at an annual seminar hosted by South Korea's SK Group. The seminar, titled "Trans-Pacific Dialogue," was held at a resort in Virginia, attended by SK Group chairman Chey Tae-won and many others, including Japanese Ambassador to the US Koji Tomita.

"Security remains our core issue that is demonstrated by the threat posed by the DPRK," the Japanese diplomat said of trilateral cooperation, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Pyongyang fired a new record of 63 ballistic missiles this year, far exceeding the previous annual record of 25.

Tomita said North Korean provocations were the reason why the three countries "stepped up" their efforts to strengthen their capabilities, and also improve US extended deterrence.

"But I also look forward to deepening our policy dialogue to greater alignment of security," he added.

Cho reiterated the need to enhance trilateral cooperation for economic security as well.

"After the pandemic and widespread disruption of supply chains, the world is turning its attention to building a stable, reliable and resilient supply chains," the South Korean diplomat said.

"Hence the time is right," he added, for creating a trend of economic collaboration between the countries.

Tomita agreed, noting the three countries together account for 30 percent of global gross domestic product, as well as 30 percent of global trade and 45 percent of the world's military spending.

"In this respect, much progress has been made bilaterally between Japan and the United States and between the United States and ROK for enhancing supply chain resilience," he said, referring to South Korea by its official name, the Republic of Korea.

"Trilateral dialogue can help create synergy in these efforts," he insisted.

Cho said Seoul stands ready to strengthen its trilateral cooperation with the US and Japan.

"I can tell you that the Yoon Suk-yeol government is prepared to strengthen our contribution to the trilateral cooperation among the US, (South) Korea and Japan, and I hope that this will have a huge impact on building a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific region, an area where Japan, Korea and the United States have a huge stake in," he said. (Yonhap)

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