South Korea, the U.S. and Japan agreed to work together on Korean Peninsula issues at a vice-ministerial meeting on Wednesday in Tokyo.
Speaking at a press conference afterwards, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said that Seoul-Washington-Tokyo cooperation has sent a critical message to the North.
"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 United States has made it clear that we are ready to engage with North Korea. They know that. We hope they respond positively."
Seoul's vice foreign minister Choi Jong-kun said they exchanged views on the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, stressing the need for trilateral cooperation because it's an issue that takes a long time to resolve.
Japan's vice foreign minister Takeo Mori stressed the importance of implementing UN Security Council resolutions on North Korea, while asking for cooperation to resolve the issue of North Korea's abduction of Japanese citizens four decades ago.
This was the first three-way vice-ministerial meeting in four years, and it came as Seoul-Tokyo relations hit a fresh low, following recent "inappropriate" remarks by a senior Seoul-based Japanese diplomat about President Moon Jae-in as well as a series of historical and territorial issues.
Both the South Korean and Japanese vice foreign ministers have agreed to continue dialogue.
"Regarding a visit to Japan by our president and the summit between our two countries, I would like to reaffirm that we will continue to make efforts to resolve our pending issues based on the achievements that have been made at the working level."
The three diplomats also discussed issues related to Myanmar, climate change, global health and the economic recovery.
In a readout, the U.S. State Department said they affirmed the need to maintain an "inclusive, free, and open Indo-Pacific," and opposition to any instability in the East China Sea.
After her time in Tokyo, Sherman arrived in Seoul on Wednesday night and had a meeting with South Korean foreign minister Chung Eui-yong on Thursday morning.
She reportedly plans for meetings with high-level Korean officials in the afternoon, and on Friday, she will have separate talks with her Korean counterpart Choi Jong-kun.
Yoon Jung-min, Arirang News.