• Kyodo

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Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and his Australian counterpart, Julie Bishop, agreed in a meeting in Tokyo on the need to adopt a strong U.N. Security Council resolution against North Korea in the wake of its recent nuclear test and rocket launch.

“The international community must send a strong message” against North Korea, Kishida said at the outset of the meeting Monday, which was open to the media, adding that North Korea’s actions pose a “direct and grave” threat to Japan.

“We stand with Japan and other members of the international community in condemning the North Korean regime for its provocative, destabilizing, dangerous behavior,” Bishop said in pledging to work with Japan and other members of the Security Council to urge North Korea to refrain from further provocations.

The ministers, in their first talks in three months, also agreed on the need to cooperate in the area of nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament, especially in the wake of the North Korean nuclear test Jan. 6, said a Japanese official who briefed reporters after the talks.

Japan and Australia lead a group of non-nuclear weapons states called the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative, which aims to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons, though both countries rely on U.S. nuclear deterrence for protection.

Pyongyang launched a long-range rocket, widely viewed as a test of ballistic missile technology, on Feb. 7 in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

The Security Council is currently debating a resolution to impose sanctions on North Korea. Japan joined the council as a nonpermanent member in January.

Among other issues discussed, Kishida pitched the advantages of partnering with Japan on the planned development of new submarines for the Australian navy, saying co-developing the fleet is important from a “strategic perspective,” the official said.

Bishop said she welcomes Japan’s involvement in the selection process. France and Germany are also competing for the deal. A decision is expected this year.

During a working dinner following their talks, the foreign ministers were expected to discuss China’s land reclamation and other activities in the South China Sea, the official said.

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