S. Korea-Aus­tralia for­eign, de­fense talks

The Korea Times - - FRONT PAGE - AP-Yon­hap

South Korean For­eign Min­is­ter Kang Kyung-wha, sec­ond from right, and De­fense Min­is­ter Song Young-moo, right, smile with Aus­tralian De­fense Min­is­ter Marise Payne, left, and For­eign Min­is­ter Julie Bishop prior to their meet­ing at

South Korea and Aus­tralia voiced strong con­cerns Fri­day over ris­ing ten­sions caused by North Korea’s con­tin­ued provo­ca­tions and em­pha­sized the im­por­tance of diplo­matic ef­forts to tackle the cur­rent nu­clear stale­mate.

For­eign Min­is­ter Kang Kyung-wha and De­fense Min­is­ter Song Young-moo met with their Aus­tralian coun­ter­parts, Julie Bishop and Marise Payne, in Seoul for the third bi­en­nial “two-plus-two” talks, which were launched in 2013.

“We shared our deep con­cerns that the North’s nu­clear threats have reached a level never seen be­fore af­ter its re­cent sixth nu­clear test,” Kang told re­porters dur­ing a joint press con­fer­ence held af­ter the meet­ing. “In par­tic­u­lar, we strongly con­demned the North for ex­plic­itly vi­o­lat­ing U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tions.

“We also agreed that diplo­matic ef­forts should be made to peace­fully achieve a com­plete, ver­i­fi­able and ir­re­versible de­nu­cle­ariza­tion. ... Both sides noted that sanc­tions and pres­sure against the North are diplo­matic tools to make the North free of nu­clear weapons.”

The meet­ing comes amid ris­ing ten­sions sparked by North Korea’s con­tin­ued provo­ca­tions, in­clud­ing a se­ries of bal­lis­tic mis­sile launches and a sixth nu­clear test held last month. A bom­bas­tic ex­change of bel­li­cose rhetoric be­tween the lead­ers of North Korea and the U.S. has also height­ened the ten­sions fur­ther.

Aus­tralian For­eign Min­is­ter Bishop reaf­firmed her coun­try’s com­mit­ment to work­ing to­gether with South Korea in coun­ter­ing the North’s nu­clear and mis­sile devel­op­ment as­pi­ra­tions. The min­is­ter also urged the North to come back to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble to dis­cuss the nu­clear is­sue.

“We stand united with the ROK against the provoca­tive and threat­en­ing be­hav­ior of North Korea,” she said. ROK stands for the Repub­lic of Korea, the of­fi­cial name of South Korea.

“And we have a very sig­nif­i­cant dis­cus­sion on the ways that we can work to­gether through deep co­op­er­a­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion with a view to de­ter­ring any fu­ture il­le­gal test by North Korea and to com­pel North Korea back to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble with an aim of de­nu­cle­ariz­ing the Korean Penin­sula,” she added.

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