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(LEAD) S. Korea, U.S., Japan agree to maximize pressure on N. Korea

2017/08/04 00:22

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(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with details of talks; CHANGES dateline, headline)

SEOUL, Aug. 4 (Yonhap) -- Top security officials of South Korea, the United States and Japan agreed Thursday to maximize pressure on North Korea to stop its missile and nuclear provocations, the presidential office here said.

South Korea's National Security Office chief Chung Eui-yong held a video conference with his U.S. and Japanese counterparts, H.R. McMaster and Shotaro Yachi, to coordinate their response to North Korea's evolving threats, according to Cheong Wa Dae.

During the 70-minute talks that began at 9 p.m. (local time), they recognized the grave challenge and threat North Korea's missile launches pose to peace and stability in the region and beyond.

"(The officials) agreed to strengthen maximum pressure to deter additional provocations by North Korea through such measures as U.N. Security Council resolutions," the office said in a news release.

The statement underlines the three countries' commitment to pressure and sanctions despite Seoul and Washington's recent indications of willingness for talks with Pyongyang.

Tensions run high following North Korea's two tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles last month.

"They reaffirmed that talks with North Korea are possible under the right conditions and that to induce North Korea to hold talks, it is necessary to maintain efforts for consistent sanctions and pressure from the international community, with South Korea, the U.S. and Japan at its center," the office said.

Chung, in particular, emphasized that the ultimate goal of maximum pressure and sanctions is to bring North Korea to the negotiating table.

Cheong Wa Dae said the three sides agreed to continue their close coordination over North Korea's nuclear and missile programs, adding it was the first such video conference among them.

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