The foreign ministers of Japan, the United States, Australia and India on Friday urged all U.N. members not to trade weapons with North Korea, as Pyongyang has been trying to expand its military collaboration with Russia.

At their talks on the sidelines of the annual session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, the ministers from the four-way grouping, known as the Quad, also agreed to enhance cooperation toward achieving their vision of a "free and open Indo-Pacific."

The ministers shared the view that their countries will oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo by force, apparently with Russia's aggression against Ukraine and China's growing maritime assertiveness in the Asia-Pacific region in mind.

(From L) U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong, Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa are photographed before their Quad meeting in New York on Sept. 22, 2023. (Photo courtesy of the Japanese Foreign Ministry) (Kyodo)

Yoko Kamikawa, who became Japan's first female foreign minister in around two decades in a Cabinet reshuffle on Sept. 13, participated in a Quad gathering for the first time. She replaced Yoshimasa Hayashi, who was often seen as holding a pro-China stance.

Kamikawa confirmed with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar that the Quad ministerial meeting will take place in Japan next year.

"We strongly support the principles of freedom, the rule of law, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and peaceful settlement of disputes" as well as oppose unilateral attempts to change the status quo, the ministers said in a joint readout released after the gathering.

"We concur that the use, or threat of use, of nuclear weapons would be unacceptable," the readout said, with fears lingering that Russia may use such arms against Ukraine.

The Quad top diplomats reaffirmed that they will work together to promote reform of the United Nations, whose dysfunction has hampered its responses to international disputes, particularly over Russia's war in Ukraine.

Russia is one of the five veto-wielding members of the U.N. Security Council, along with Britain, China, France and the United States.

India, a member of the BRICS forum also comprising Brazil, China, Russia and South Africa, has maintained a friendly relationship with Moscow even after the launch of its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

The Quad ministers, meanwhile, exchanged views on North Korea's nuclear and missile development. Russian President Vladimir Putin held bilateral talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Russia last week.

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa (L) holds talks with her Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in New York on Sept. 22, 2023. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Kamikawa spoke to her U.S., Australian and Indian counterparts about the safety of Japan's discharge of treated radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean, which started on Aug. 24.

The Quad foreign ministers gathered for the first time since March, when they met in New Delhi.

Later Friday, Kamikawa, Blinken and their Philippine counterpart Enrique Manalo met and reaffirmed their commitment to promoting peace and stability in the South and East China seas, according to the U.S. State Department.

The three countries also indicated they will "continue to call out behavior that is inconsistent with international law," such as China's "recent actions" near Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea, it said.

In early August, the Philippines criticized China over the incident in which its vessel shot a water cannon at a Philippine military-chartered boat near the Manila-controlled shoal.

Kamikawa and Blinken also held brief trilateral talks with South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin in New York.

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