The finance ministers of the United States, Japan and South Korea said Wednesday that they have discussed the Asian countries' "serious concerns" about the recent sharp depreciation of their currencies against the U.S. dollar.

As the countries expand the scope of their cooperation beyond security affairs, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and her Japanese and South Korean counterparts, respectively Shunichi Suzuki and Choi Sang Mok, met in Washington on the sidelines of the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

During the first-ever trilateral meeting of the countries' finance chiefs, the trio agreed to consult closely on foreign exchange market developments and work toward "sustainable economic growth, financial stability" and other objectives such as building resilient supply chains, according to their joint statement.

(From L) Japanese Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and South Korean Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance Choi Sang Mok hold talks in Washington on April 17, 2024. (Kyodo)

The three countries have been expanding coordination beyond addressing the threat posed by North Korea, following a three-way summit of U.S. President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol last August.

When the leaders gathered at the U.S. presidential retreat of Camp David near Washington, they agreed to expand cooperation to development projects and various other domains in the Indo-Pacific region and elsewhere, with China's growing political and economic influence in mind.

"I see scope to further deepen our cooperation on key shared objectives in the region and globally, such as expanding resilient supply chains, countering economic coercion and combating sanctions evasion," Yellen told the two ministers on Wednesday.

Her reference to sanctions was related to measures against Russia over its war with Ukraine and North Korea over its nuclear and missile development programs.

Yellen also said during the meeting that the United States wants to work closely with its two major allies on economic development assistance for Pacific island countries.

In the statement, the ministers also said they "strongly condemn" North Korea's exports of its ballistic missiles to Russia.

Suzuki told reporters after the meeting that they were able to have a "frank exchange of opinions" over Asia-Pacific affairs and shared challenges being addressed by the Group of 20 and other multilateral frameworks.

Choi said at the outset of the meeting that the deepening trilateral cooperation is highly meaningful in responding to financial instability that could stem from economic uncertainties and after facing supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical fragmentation.

"I trust that our economic and financial cooperation will only strengthen and broaden starting with this first trilateral finance ministers meeting," Choi said.

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