S.Korea, US, Japan agree on continued cooperation

South Korea, the US and Japan agreed during their latest vice foreign ministerial talks to keep working together for regional peace and response to such global issues as climate change, supply chain resilience and Covid-19, the Foreign Ministry in Seoul said on Thursday.

South Korea’s First Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun held the meeting with US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Japanese counterpart Takeo Mori in Washington D.C., reports Yonhap News Agency.

“The vice ministers of the three nations shared the perception that the Korean Peninsula and regional peace, stability and prosperity are in their shared interests and also agreed to expand substantive cooperation in such regions as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Central America,” the Ministry said in a statement.

“The three also agreed to pursue future-oriented, mutually beneficial cooperation on the pending global issues, including the climate change, (global) supply chain and the Covid-19 response,” it added.

The Washington session, meanwhile, laid bare a deep rift between the two of Washington’s key Asian allies, which have long bickered over shared history and territory issues.

A joint news conference of the trio was cancelled at the last minute, as the Japanese official boycotted it in protest of South Korean police chief’s visit to the easternmost islets of Dokdo earlier this week, according to Choi.

Dokdo is a set of South Korea-controlled islets in the East Sea. Tokyo lays claim to the islets.

In her solo news conference, Sherman said the US was very satisfied with its consultations with South Korea and Japan on the best way to denuclearize Korea.

Choi said South Korea was also satisfied with the “speed” and “direction” of its discussions with the US on declaring a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War as a way to bring Pyongyang back to the negotiating table.

On Thursday, Seoul’s Foreign Ministry reiterated its clear position on the sovereignty over Dokdo.

“Dokdo is clearly our inherent territory historically, geographically and by international law,” Ministry spokesman Choi Young-sam said in a briefing.

“The government’s position remains the same that it will sternly respond to Japan’s unreasonable claims over Dokdo.”