US, Japan, S. Korea agree to strengthen diplomatic efforts on N. Korea

한겨레 2021. 9. 24. 16:56
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South Korea's foreign minister met with top diplomats from the two countries and reiterated President Moon's remarks about the end-of-war declaration as a jumping-off point for advancing the peace process on the Korean Peninsula
Diplomatic discussions between South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Chung Eui-yong, US Secretary of State Tony Blinken and Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Toshimitsu Motegi took place in New York on Wednesday. (provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

The top diplomats from South Korea, the US, and Japan agreed during a meeting on Wednesday to strengthen diplomatic efforts to bring about meaningful progress on the long-stalled initiative to achieve lasting peace and the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said on Thursday.

While visiting New York to attend the UN General Assembly, South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong sat down with US Secretary of State Tony Blinken and Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi on Wednesday afternoon. This was the first meeting between the three diplomats in four months since a meeting of foreign ministers and development ministers of the Group of Seven (G7) countries in London in May.

“[The three ministers] shared their assessments of the recent situation on the Korean Peninsula and observed that the three countries had been communicating closely about North Korea and its nuclear program. They agreed to strengthen diplomatic efforts,” MOFA said in a press release.

Though the press release didn’t specifically mention them, other topics that were reportedly discussed were North Korea’s recent series of launches of ballistic missiles and long-range cruise missiles and South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s proposal for an end-of-war declaration at the UN General Assembly the day prior.

“We explained to the Americans and Japanese that an end-of-war declaration can create important momentum for advancing the Korean Peninsula peace process. The Americans listened carefully to our explanation about that,” said MOFA spokesperson Choi Young-sam in the daily press briefing on Thursday.

MOFA explained that the three diplomats not only exchanged opinions about the situation in Afghanistan and Myanmar but also held a wide-ranging discussion about ways the three countries can cooperate on responding to global issues such as climate change and public health.

MOFA added that in a tete-a-tete following the trilateral meeting, Chung and Blinken “shared their assessments about the recent situation on the Korean Peninsula, agreed on the urgency of dialogue to achieve meaningful progress on the Korean Peninsula peace process, and held an in-depth discussion of various creative ways to engage with North Korea.”

In their meeting, Chung and Blinken also apparently exchanged opinions about confidence-building measures, including an end-of-war declaration and humanitarian aid to North Korea, that had been previously discussed by US special representative for North Korea Sung Kim and his South Korean counterpart Noh Kyu-duk, MOFA’s special representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs.

The end-of-war declaration is something that Moon has repeatedly proposed, and something that South and North Korea have previously agreed to. But the US government hasn’t taken an official stance on the matter since Joe Biden’s inauguration, prompting keen interest in Blinken’s reaction on Wednesday.

During earlier discussions between South Korea and the US, a senior official from the South Korean government said that the Americans hadn’t described the end-of-war declaration as negative and had said that “the key is North Korea’s reaction.” Such comments suggest that the US could consider an end-of-war declaration given a favorable response from North Korea.

Chung also reportedly planned to hold a bilateral meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi, in New York on Thursday.

By Kim Ji-eun, staff reporter

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