Wendy Sherman (right), Choi Jong Kun (left), and Takeo Mori attend a press conference in Tokyo. AP
A senior American official said on Wednesday that South Korea, Japan and the US are sending a clear message with their coordination on policy towards North Korea despite some recent friction between the two Asian allies.
US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman told reporters after meeting the vice foreign ministers of Japan and South Korea, “that close coordination sends a very critical message to North Korea in that we are together and shoulder-to-shoulder in our approach to this policy.”
The officials reaffirmed the importance of respecting international law, including maintaining freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea, and opposed any unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East China Sea and in the Taiwan Strait.
Wendy Sherman (left) talks with Choi Jong Kun in the meeting venue in Tokyo on Wednesday. AP
Wendy Sherman, who held talks in Tokyo with her counterparts, Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Takeo Mori and South Korea’s Choi Jong-kun, said "when countries take actions that run counter to the United States’ interests or that threatens our partners and allies, we will not let those challenges go unanswered.”
The United States and Japan have raised concern about China's pressing its claims to contested areas in the South China Sea and Japanese-controlled Senkaku islands, which China also claims and calls Diaoyu.
"It is important for the international community to unite and raise voice against (China's) unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force, and I hope to cooperate among the three countries,” Mori said.
South Korea’s Defence Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo on Saturday fended off calls to step up pressure on North Korea after it test-fired missiles last month. Jeong told an annual security conference in Singapore
China hosts the leaders of squabbling neighbours South Korea and Japan on Tuesday, flexing its diplomatic muscle with America’s two key military allies in Asia and seeking regional unity on how to deal with a belligerent North Korea.
The string of weapons drills come as a prolonged hiatus in disarmament talks with the United States drags on, and despite recent overtures from Washington offering help to contain the pandemic.
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