By Byun Duk-kun
WASHINGTON, Oct. 15 (Yonhap) — The United States is committed to working with its allies in denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, a State Department spokesperson said Friday, also stressing the importance of key U.S. allies, South Korea and Japan, working together to that end.
Ned Price made the remark after Japan’s newly inaugurated Prime Minister Fumio Kishida held his first call with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Friday (Seoul time), more than 10 days after his inauguration last Monday.
“As you know, part of our strategy, when it comes to the DPRK, is to work closely with our allies and partners, to work in lockstep with our allies and partners towards our ultimate objective and that is the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” Price said in a telephonic press briefing, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“But we’re also committed to the trilateral relationship, knowing just how important it is,” he added when asked how important Japan-South Korea relationship was to the United States.
Seoul-Tokyo relations have been at their lowest ebb since mid-2019 when Japan took a series of economic measures against South Korea in what many viewed as an attempt to retaliate against a Seoul court decision that ordered Japanese businesses to pay compensation to South Korean workers forced into free labor during Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule of Korea.
Seoul’s foreign ministry earlier said its top nuclear negotiator, Noh Kyu-duk, will hold bilateral and trilateral discussions with his U.S. and Japanese counterparts, Sung Kim and Takehiro Funakoshi, respectively, in Washington next week.
Price declined to comment on the upcoming meeting of top nuclear negotiators, but said it was “suffice to say that we continue to work closely on a bilateral basis, as well as on a trilateral basis with our Japanese and South Korean counterparts to advance that ultimate policy objectives.”
The department spokesperson earlier said the U.S. has made “specific proposals” for discussion with North Korea and that it remains prepared to meet with the reclusive North anytime, anywhere without preconditions.
He declined to elaborate on any specific proposals made to the North, but reiterated the U.S. remains “ready and willing to engage in constructive diplomacy” with the North.
Pyongyang has stayed away from talks with the U.S. since early 2019, and it remains unresponsive to the recent U.S. overtures.