Jiji PressSINGAPORE (Jiji Press) — Japan, the United States and South Korea stopped short of referring to maximum pressure on North Korea in a joint statement released after a meeting of their defense ministers Sunday.
In the statement, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera and his U.S. and South Korean counterparts, Jim Mattis and Song Young Moo, confirmed that their common goal is North Korea’s complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization.
But the statement made no mention of maximum pressure on North Korea, which was included in a joint statement released at the time of the trio’s previous meeting in October last year.
The officials met on the sidelines of the three-day annual Asia Security Summit, known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, in Singapore that ended Sunday, to coordinate their views ahead of a summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un set for June 12.
In the latest statement, the three ministers expressed hopes that the upcoming summit “will contribute to comprehensively resolving matters of security and humanitarian concerns for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the region.”
The three also “agreed to remain united in support of the ongoing diplomatic efforts in the pursuit of the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” according to the statement.
There was no reference to maximum pressure on North Korea in the statement after Trump said Friday that he no longer wants to use the term because the United States and North Korea are “getting along.”
At the meeting, however, Mattis made it clear that there will be no reward to Pyongyang without its verifiable and irreversible denuclearization.
Onodera told reporters after the meeting that the three sides agreed to maintain pressure on North Korea.
The three ministers concurred on the continuance of surveillance activities to block ship-to-ship smuggling of items banned under U.N. Security Council resolutions to North Korea.
They also discussed maritime security, apparently bearing in mind China’s increasing assertiveness in the East and South China seas. They again confirmed the need to ensure freedom of navigation and flight and resolve any disputes peacefully.
Later, Onodera and Song had a bilateral meeting and agreed to promote their countries’ defense exchanges. They decided that Japan will consider dispatching a Maritime Self-Defense Force vessel to South Korea to coincide with the 70th anniversary in October of the foundation of the South Korean military.Speech