SEOUL -- Top diplomats of the U.S., Japan and South Korea, meeting here for follow-up talks to the summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, agreed on Thursday to closely cooperate in efforts to realize complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha expressed support for the post-summit joint statement signed by the two leaders.
In a press conference following the meeting, Pompeo said coordinating efforts among the three countries is essential for denuclearizing North Korea. He also said the denuclearization process will not be easy.
During Thursday's meeting, the U.S., Japan and South Korea agreed to coordinate their post-summit North Korea policy. Pompeo, who attended the summit, briefed his counterparts on it.
Pompeo on Wednesday said the Trump administration is hopeful major progress will be made in denuclearization by the time Trump's term expires in January 2021.
According to Reuters and other media reports, Pompeo said he thought the North Koreans understood that denuclearization will entail "in-depth verification." He also said there are "lots of other places where there were understandings reached" between the U.S. and North Korea during the summit outside the joint statement.
Following the summit, Trump suggested that joint military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea would be stopped while Washington and Pyongyang are in dialogue. Pompeo said the drills will resume if the talks fail.
The Trump-Kim joint statement confirmed North Korea's commitment to working toward complete denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula. But it did not include what has been demanded by Japan, the U.S. and South Korea -- "the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization" on the peninsula, the goal also expressed in the United Nations Security Council resolution.
The three foreign ministers reaffirmed they would continue making this demand of Pyongyang. The top officials shared their determination not to ease sanctions until North Korea takes concrete actions toward denuclearization.
South Korean Foreign Minister Kang stressed that practical discussion to realize denuclearization will be essential.
Ahead of the meeting with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts, Pompeo met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in earlier on Thursday at the Blue House in Seoul.
According to reporters, Moon at the beginning of the talks highly evaluated the outcome of the Trump-Kim summit - despite the divided opinions about outcomes. He said the historic summit was significant in having helped people around the world become free of the threat of war and nuclear weapons.
The summit has helped move the region "from the era of hostility toward the era of dialogue, of peace and prosperity," Moon said.