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International relations

U.S., Japan, South Korea pledge resolute response to North Korea nuke test

If Pyongyang conducts 7th test, it will realize it made 'wrong decision': official

South Korean troops conduct drills in Seoul as part of joint exercises with the U.S. military.   © Kyodo

SEOUL (Kyodo) -- U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and his Japanese and South Korean counterparts discussed North Korea on Thursday in Hawaii and agreed to take resolute steps in the event of another North Korean nuclear test.

Sullivan, Takeo Akiba and Kim Sung Han "agreed that there must not be naive thinking or reaction that North Korea has conducted six nuclear tests and that (a new test) will only be one more nuclear test," Kim told reporters, according to South Korea's Yonhap News Agency.

"Should North Korea conduct its seventh nuclear test, our reaction will certainly be different from those until now," the South Korean official added, saying trilateral cooperation will be "maximized" so the North realizes conducting a seventh nuclear test was the "wrong decision."

Pyongyang is believed to have completed preparations for what would be its seventh nuclear test and first since September 2017, and there is speculation it could go ahead with it soon.

The White House said in a statement that the national security advisers "condemned the DPRK's continued development of its ballistic missile and weapons of mass destruction programs," adding that the United States reaffirmed "our commitment to extended deterrence to both countries."

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea, or DPRK, is North Korea's official name.

The Japanese government said the three officials shared the view that coordination and cooperation are important in moving toward the denuclearization of North Korea. The three also exchanged their views and agreed to work closely together on the situations surrounding Taiwan and Ukraine, it said.

The office of South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said the talks involving the three countries' national security advisers were the first since the Yoon administration was launched in May. In addition to North Korea issues, they discussed cooperation on cutting-edge technologies and supply chains, according to the office.

Akiba and Kim also met bilaterally on Wednesday and discussed cooperation on the North Korean issue, as well as chances of improvement in soured ties between Japan and South Korea. Kim also met with Sullivan bilaterally on the same day.

Later Friday, Kim, who returned from Hawaii to South Korea, told reporters at Incheon International Airport that he and Akiba have discussed a date for a future meeting of Yoon and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida but said it is too early to reveal it.

Japan's Foreign Ministry said the same day that Takehiro Funakoshi, director general of its Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, will meet with his U.S. and South Korean counterparts, Sung Kim and Kim Gunn, on Wednesday in Tokyo "to exchange views on the recent situation regarding North Korea."

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