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US, S Korea, Japan Discuss N Korea     10/18 05:48

   Senior officials from the United States, South Korea and Japan have 
reaffirmed their countries' commitment to finding a diplomatic solution to the 
threat posed by North Korea's rapidly expanding nuclear program. 

   SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- Senior officials from the United States, South 
Korea and Japan reaffirmed their countries' commitment Wednesday to finding a 
diplomatic solution to the threat posed by North Korea's rapidly expanding 
nuclear program. However, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan stressed 
that the allies must be prepared for any contingency.

   After meeting with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts in Seoul, 
Sullivan said the U.S. continues to view diplomacy, supported by pressure and 
sanctions, as the primary means for solving the North Korean nuclear problem. 
But despite that approach, the Trump administration will continue to keep "all 
options on the table" because the "regime in Pyongyang is unpredictable and 
non-transparent," he said.

   "Our objective is, throughout that campaign of pressure, to bring North 
Korea to the negotiating table without preconditions so that we can achieve our 
objective of a denuclearized Korean Peninsula," Sullivan said at a news 
conference after the meeting, where the officials mainly discussed responses to 
North Korea's nuclear activities.

   "Diplomacy is our primary objective and primary means to addressing the 
threat posed by North Korea. But we need to be prepared to respond to any 
eventuality given the unpredictable nature of the regime in Pyongyang," he said.

   Before flying to Seoul for talks with South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Lim 
Sung-nam, Sullivan and Japanese Deputy Foreign Minister Shinsuke Sugiyama met 
in Tokyo on Tuesday and vowed to find more ways to apply pressure on North 

   On Wednesday, Lim said the allies agree that the situation surrounding the 
Korean Peninsula should be "managed stably."

   The vice-ministerial discussions were followed by a meeting of the 
countries' top envoys for currently stalled nuclear disarmament talks with 
North Korea that also involved China and Russia. The six-party talks were last 
held in late 2008 and North Korea went on to conduct its second nuclear test in 
May 2009.

   The Seoul meetings came as the U.S. and South Korea conduct joint naval 
drills involving fighter jets, submarines and other naval vessels, including 
the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, to train for potential North Korean 
provocations. The allies regularly conduct joint exercises that North Korea 
condemns as invasion rehearsals.

   North Korea in recent months has tested purported thermonuclear weapons and 
intercontinental missiles and launched two midrange missiles over Japan while 
also threatening to fire similar weapons toward Guam, a Pacific U.S. territory 
and military hub.

   North Korea's deputy U.N. ambassador, Kim In Ryong, said Tuesday at the 
United Nations that his country plans to conduct more satellite launches, which 
outside governments see as a cover for banned tests of missile technologies.

   On Monday, Kim told the U.N. General Assembly's disarmament committee that 
the situation on the Korean Peninsula had "reached the touch-and-go point and a 
nuclear war may break out any moment," citing the U.S.-South Korea drills and 
what he called U.S. plans to remove North Korea's leadership. He said the North 
has the right to possess nuclear weapons in self-defense.


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