The foreign policy chiefs of the United States, Japan and South Korea agreed Tuesday to boost cooperation in tackling North Korea's missile threat and ensuring economic security ahead of a U.S.-China summit, as they seek to build resilient supply chains for critical items.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa and South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin also discussed issues related to China, while sharing the view that unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force are unacceptable, Japan's Foreign Ministry said.
During the tripartite meeting held on the fringes of an APEC gathering in San Francisco, the top diplomats agreed on the need to share information and monitor developments with respect to North Korea's supply of arms to Russia, which continues to wage war in Ukraine.
"Strategic trilateral coordination is increasingly needed. We'll work together to maintain and strengthen the free and open international order based on the rule of law," Kamikawa said at the meeting.
Blinken touched on an upcoming summit between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, who are both attending the leaders' meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, a Japanese official said.
The United States and its close Asian allies have shared concerns about North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile development and China's assertive behavior in the Indo-Pacific region, where the democracies want to maintain the status quo.
Blinken on Tuesday reaffirmed Washington's "ironclad" commitment to the defense of Japan and South Korea, the State Department said.
In the latest demonstration of the deepening of trilateral ties, the countries are preparing to initiate a system by the end of this year that allows for the swift exchange of information on North Korean missiles.
They are also stepping up cooperation on ensuring stable supplies of semiconductors and batteries, among other technologies, learning from disruptions during the COVID pandemic that showed China's dominance in the production of items crucial for national security.
South Korea's Park was quoted by the United States as saying that trilateral cooperation has been reaching "unprecedented heights," adding that like-minded countries joining forces are more important than ever as the rules-based international order faces multiple challenges.
The humanitarian crisis in Gaza was also on the agenda amid the ongoing Israeli offensive triggered by an October attack by Hamas militants. The civilian death toll has quickly climbed and hospitals in the Gaza Strip have been targeted by Israeli armed forces.
South Korea was on the same page as Japan and the United States, which recently issued a joint statement with other Group of Seven nations, according to the Japanese official. In the document, the G-7 diplomats condemned the terror attacks by Hamas and called for "humanitarian pauses."