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Military chiefs of Japan, S. Korea, U.S., hold first trilateral meeting

Kyodo

The most senior uniformed officers of the Japanese, American and South Korean militaries met Tuesday in Hawaii to discuss trilateral defense cooperation over North Korea.

Gen. Shigeru Iwasaki, chief of the Joint Staff of the Self-Defense Forces, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, and South Korean Adm. Choi Yun Hee discussed threats relating to North Korea’s continued development of missiles and nuclear weapons, they said in a joint statement.

A South Korean official said after the meeting that North Korea’s nuclear missiles are now becoming “a realistic threat.”

“There are areas where (the three countries) should make coordinated efforts to deter (North Korea) by sharing military intelligence such as the detection of missile launches,” the official said.

The two-hour meeting was the first for the three nations’ chiefs of staff. Their defense ministers have held trilateral talks before.

The three met on the sidelines of U.S.-led multinational naval drills. The Rim of the Pacific exercise runs through Aug. 1. Japan and South Korea are taking part.

The three countries also plan to hold joint naval search and rescue drills after RIMPAC.

On Sunday, North Korea fired short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast toward the Sea of Japan. South Korean reports said the North fired more projectiles Wednesday.

On March 26, the North launched two Rodong medium-range ballistic missiles, which can reach targets almost anywhere in Japan. Pyongyang has also threatened to conduct a new nuclear test.