S. Korea, Japan, U.S. to unite over North Korea

SEOUL, Reuters

The United States, Japan and South Korea said on Friday their various negotiations with North Korea have made progress and their coordinated response to Pyongyang is the basis for lasting peace on the Korean peninsula.

The three countries reaffirmed their common approach after a meeting of the Trilateral Coordination and Oversight Group in Seoul, a joint statement after the meeting said.

The meeting “particularly lauded the recent exchange of visits between members of separated families in South and North Korea” and hoped it would lead to more exchanges, it said.

The delegations also “welcomed the progress” at Cabinet-level talks in Pyongyang this week “and hoped the process of regular dialogue — established during the historic summit of June 13-15 between the two Korean leaders — would expand and deepen”.

Those talks were extended after the two sides hit deadlock over South Korea’s proposal to hold top-level defense meetings and set up a military “hotline” across the heavily armed border. The two sides made progress on two non-military issues.

They agreed to hold more reunions like those in Pyongyang and Seoul last month among families divided by the 1950-53 Korean war and to work on a legal framework for economic projects.

The statement said the three countries “noted ongoing discussions” between the United States and North Korea “and expressed the hope (North Korea) would address these issues of mutual concern”.

Washington and Pyongyang have been engaged in a series of talks about curbing North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs and normalizing ties.

The United States, which maintains 37,000 troops in South Korea, led U.N. forces against Beijing-backed North Korea in the Korean War. That conflict ended in an armed truce that has left the two Koreas in a state of war.

The three delegations also welcomed progress made in last week’s talks between Japan and North Korea “and hoped that further dialogue will lead to creating a favorable environment for the normalization of Japan-DPRK relations”.

The two-day talks in Japan ended without progress on key issues, but the two sides agreed to meet again in October.

“The delegations reaffirmed their shared approach toward North Korea…as the basis for achieving stability and lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula,” the statement said.

The delegations were led by U.S. State Department Counselor Wendy Sherman, Japan’s deputy vice foreign minister Yukio Takeuchi and South Korean Deputy Foreign minister Jan Jai-ryong.