US, Japan, South Korea nuclear envoys meet after Pyongyang test

Takehiro Funakoshi, Director-General of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau at Japan's Foreign Ministry, Sung Kim, US Special Envoy for North Korea, and Noh Kyu-duk, Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs at South Korea's Foreign Ministry, pose ahead of a trilateral meeting between Japan, US, and South Korea, to discuss North Korea [David Mareuil/Pool via Reuters]

Top nuclear envoys from Japan, the United States and South Korea held talks in Tokyo on Tuesday to discuss North Korea’s missile and nuclear programmes, a day after Pyongyang said it tested a new long-range cruise missile.

Analysts said the weapon, described by North Korean state media as “strategic”, could have nuclear capabilities.

“The recent developments in the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] are a reminder of the importance of close communication and cooperation from the three countries,” Sung Kim, the United States special envoy for North Korea, said in his opening remarks, using the initials for the country’s official name.

The three countries have been discussing ways to break a standoff with North Korea over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes, which have drawn international sanctions.

In meeting with his Japanese counterpart Takehiro Funakoshi and South Korean counterpart Noh Kyu-duk, Kim said Washington remained open to diplomacy to deal with North Korea issues.

The White House has said the US was still prepared to engage with Pyongyang despite the recent missile test.

US President Joe Biden’s administration announced a new approach to North Korea in May, saying it was still pursuing denuclearisation but that it was not prepared to offer any ‘grand bargain’ to Pyongyang.

The Biden policy would be calibrated and practical and focussed on diplomacy, officials said at the time.

Denuclearisation talks have been stalled since 2019, with North Korea demanding sanctions relief.

Pyongyang has said it sees no sign of any policy change from Washington.

While the US is a close military and economic ally of both Japan and South Korea, ties between the Asian neighbours have often been strained over issues including sovereignty disputes, Japan’s 1910-45 occupation of the Korean peninsula, and their wartime history.


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