Jiji PressMANILA (Jiji Press) — Foreign Minister Taro Kono and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson agreed Monday to work closely for the strict implementation of new U.N. Security Council sanctions against North Korea over its missile tests.
The agreement, reached at their first meeting, held in Manila, came after the Security Council adopted a resolution on Saturday to impose sanctions against North Korea, including a blanket ban on the reclusive state’s coal and seafood exports, for launching intercontinental ballistic missiles twice last month.
Kono and Tillerson also agreed that Japan and the United States will hold a so-called two-plus-two meeting of their foreign and defense ministers at an early date.
The meeting was initially slated for mid-July before Japan’s cabinet reshuffle on Thursday, in which Kono was appointed foreign minister, but was put off due to reasons on the U.S. side.
The two countries will speed up working-level efforts to reschedule the meeting, officials said.
According to Japan’s Foreign Ministry, the discussions between Kono and Tillerson were all held in English.
Their meeting took place on the sidelines of a series of conferences linked to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Increasing pressure on N. Korea
Kono agreed with his South Korean and U.S. counterparts on Monday to increase pressure on North Korea, including the steady implementation of the latest U.N. Security Council sanctions, to stop its nuclear and missile development.
During the trilateral meeting, Kono, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung Wha and Tillerson also confirmed the three countries’ close cooperation to call on China and Russia, as well as member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, to increase pressure on North Korea.
Kono, who took office last week, stressed that the threat from North Korea is dramatically increasing with its recent intercontinental ballistic missile launches.
He indicated plans for cooperation by Japan, South Korea and the United States to urge China, which has traditionally been close to North Korea, to play a constructive role, saying China’s role is important to stop North Korea’s provocations.
The ASEAN countries should not be used as a loophole of international sanctions against North Korea, he also said.
The three-way meeting, held on the sidelines of a series of ASEAN-related conferences, came after the U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution on Saturday to impose new sanctions against North Korea for launching two intercontinental ballistic missiles last month.
Kono suggested that North Korea may launch further provocative acts in line with a military exercise between the United States and South Korea slated to start in the middle of August.
Concerns on South China Sea
The foreign ministers of Japan, the United States and Australia on Monday expressed serious concerns over disputes in the South China Sea, where China is increasing its moves to build military facilities.
In a joint statement issued after their strategic dialogue in Manila, Kono, Tillerson and Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop also voiced their strong opposition to any unilateral moves that are aimed at changing the status quo and could heighten tensions in the East China Sea.
They agreed to communicate closely in dealing with the maritime situations.
The three also welcomed a fresh resolution adopted by the U.N. Security Council on Saturday to strengthen sanctions on North Korea.