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S. Korea, U.S. reaffirm 'priority' of N. Korea nuclear issues Updated: 2021-03-19 03:53:59 KST

In a joint statement after the "two plus two" meeting between the top diplomats and defense chiefs from Seoul and Washington, South Korea and the U.S. have reaffirmed that North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile issues are a top priority.

"South Korea and the U.S. will continue working together for progress in the Korean Peace Process. We have agreed to continue the reciprocal and future-oriented cooperation between South Korea, the U.S. and Japan for regional peace, security and prosperity."

While accusing China of what he called "aggressive and authoritarian behavior" that challenges stability in the Indo-Pacific region, the U.S. Secretary of State signaled that at the same time there will also be cooperation with Beijing on North Korea issues.

"Beijing has an interest, a clear self interest in helping to pursue the denuclearization of the DPRK because it is a source of instability, it's a source of danger and obviously a threat to us and our partners."

On transferring wartime operational control from Washington to Seoul, the U.S. signaled that it would take time, and that the two allies will continue to work on the issue.

"We continue to make progress toward the eventual transition of wartime operational control to an ROK commanded future combined forces command. While meeting all the conditions for this transition will take more time"

On joint defense, Seoul's defense minister mentioned trilateral cooperation between Seoul, Washington and Tokyo.

"The U.S. has reiterated several times the importance of trilateral defense cooperation against newly rising security threats. The South Korean defense ministry responded that we would continue to take part in Seoul-Washington-Tokyo high-level meetings."

On Thursday, the South Korean and American officials also attended the signing of the new Special Measures Agreement that was reached this month.

"During the meeting, Seoul and Washington also agreed to work together on South Korea's New Southern Policy regarding the Indo-Pacific region, COVID-19 and climate change.
Yoon Jung-min, Arirang News."
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