SINGAPORE (WASHINGTON POST)- The defence chiefs of Japan, the United States and South Korea harshly criticised North Korea's development of nuclear weapons and missiles on Saturday (June 3), issuing a joint statement saying that the development is an immediate threat to security in the region and the world.
The joint statement was issued after a meeting in Singapore by Defence Minister Tomomi Inada, US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis and South Korean Defence Minister Han Min Koo that lasted about 75 minutes. It was the first trilateral meeting of the countries' defence chiefs since the inauguration of the administrations of US President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae In.
The joint statement demanded Pyongyang abandon its nuclear and ballistic missiles programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner. It also called on the reclusive country to cease its provocative actions and comply with international obligations. They confirmed the three countries would continue their trilateral defence cooperation, and reinforce their capabilities through information-sharing, joint military exercises and other activities.
In the field of maritime security, Inada, Mattis and Han reaffirmed the importance of the freedom of navigation and overflight as well as the peaceful solution of conflicts, apparently keeping in mind China's one-sided expansion in the East and South China seas.
Inada and Mattis also met with Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne on the day, again issuing a joint statement denouncing North Korea. Japan, Australia and the United States stipulated in their statement that they will cooperate with China, South Korea and other countries to realise firm measures aimed at preventing North Korea's reckless and provocative actions.
The statement also referred to maritime security, expressing their strong opposition to unilateral changes in the status quo, apparently with China in mind.