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S. Korea, US, Japan condemn N.Korea IRBM launch as ‘serious threat’

South Korea's First Vice Foreign Minister Cho Hyun-dong (Yonhap)
South Korea's First Vice Foreign Minister Cho Hyun-dong (Yonhap)

South Korea’s first vice minister exchanged phone calls with his US and Japanese counterparts to strongly condemn the North’s recent launch of an intermediate-range ballistic missile and agreed to meet for trilateral talks in Tokyo this month.

According to Seoul’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday, the First Vice Minister Cho Hyun-dong held a trilateral talk with US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Mori Takeo over the phone after Pyongyang fired an IRBM on Tuesday.

“The three officials took a note of how the missile flew over Japan to land in the Pacific and pointed out that the North’s repeated launch of missiles clearly violates multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions and strongly condemned (the North),” the ministry said in a press release.

North Korea fired an IRBM that flew around 4,600 kilometers over Japan to land in the Pacific on Tuesday, marking the first launch of the missile type in eight months, according to Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff. The JCS said the North’s missile few at a top altitude of about 970 km over Japan,

The three sides noted how the launch of an IRBM came after the North launched seven ballistic missiles in the span of a week and denounced Tuesday’s firing as “reckless” and “destabilizing” to the region.

They reaffirmed the importance of trilateral cooperation and coordination to develop responses to the threats posed by North Korea.

Stressing the “ironclad” US commitment to the defense of South Korea and Japan, Sherman also said the US will take “all necessary measures” to ensure the security of its allies.

The three agreed to hold a trilateral meeting in Tokyo this month.

Immediately after Pyongyang’s launch on Tuesday, other top security officials in Seoul, Tokyo and Washington held phone talks.

South Korea's deputy nuclear envoy, Lee Tae-woo and his US counterpart, Jung Pak also held a luncheon, where they discussed the North's missile launches and agreed to maintain their joint efforts to deter Pyongyang's provocations

In response to the IRBM launch, Seoul and Washington also fired four ground-to-ground missiles into the East Sea in joint drills on Wednesday.

The JCS said the allies are maintaining full readiness to deter further provocations by the North.

South Korea’s military also fired one Hyunmoo-2 ballistic missile, but it fell within the base after an abnormal flight. No casualties were reported.

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)

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