• Kyodo

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Japan, the United States and India confirmed Tuesday the importance of peaceful settlement of disputes during their first three-way foreign ministerial talks on regional issues, including those concerning the South China Sea.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj “highlighted the growing convergence of their respective countries’ interests in the Indo-Pacific region,” the three countries said in a joint document.

The bilateral meeting took place as Tokyo on Wednesday promulgated the two new security laws enacted earlier this month. The peace and stability system development law and the international peace support law will take effect within six months at a date to be specified under an ordinance.

“They also underscored the importance of international law and peaceful settlement of disputes; freedom of navigation and overflight; and unimpeded lawful commerce, including in the South China Sea,” it said.

During the meeting in New York on the fringes of the U.N. General Assembly, Kishida voiced “serious concern” about China’s behavior in the sea, according to a Foreign Ministry official.

Kishida was quoted as saying that unilateral acts that raise tension and change the status quo, such as the massive reclamation of land and the military use of it, continue to take place in the South China Sea.

At the same meeting, the beginning of which was open to the press, Kerry described East Asia as “a place of challenge,” adding that the region faces issues of instability.

Swaraj said in her opening remark, “As a law-abiding nation, we have always supported the freedom of navigation in international waters, the right of passage and overflight, unimpeded commerce and access to resources in accordance with principles of international law.”

The three foreign ministers also agreed to set up a trilateral meeting to discuss how their countries can improve humanitarian aid and disaster relief.

Earlier on Tuesday, Kishida and his U.S. and South Korean counterparts agreed to work closely together to deal with issues related to North Korea, such as a possible test launch of what they suspect to be a ballistic missile, according to an official.

Kishida told reporters he and his counterparts, John Kerry and Yun Byung-se, reaffirmed their commitment to dealing with a possible provocative act by Pyongyang, in a meeting held on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

“We shared the recognition that any launch of a long-range ballistic missile would be a clear violation of past U.N. Security Council resolutions, even if North Korea calls it a satellite,” Kishida said.

“We confirmed that we will strongly urge North Korea to refrain from any provocative acts and comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions” as well as an agreement of the six-nation talks on Pyongyang’s denuclearization, Kishida said.

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