• Kyodo

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Senior diplomats from Japan, the United States and South Korea agreed Thursday to increase pressure on North Korea, including through new U.N. sanctions, following its fifth nuclear test and a series of ballistic missile launches this year.

Vice Foreign Minister Shinsuke Sugiyama also agreed with Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken of the United States and Lim Sung Nam, South Korea’s first vice minister of foreign affairs, to work closely to implement sanctions of their own.

“We reaffirmed the need to heighten pressure on North Korea so that it will abandon its nuclear and missile development and denuclearize,” Sugiyama told a joint news conference after the meeting in Tokyo.

Referring to unilateral sanctions considered by the three countries, Sugiyama said, “There may be coordination between Japan, the United States and South Korea . . . but we will consider it by taking into account the discussions at the U.N. Security Council.”

The three diplomats met as the Security Council debates a fresh resolution to impose tougher sanctions on North Korea in response to the reclusive state’s nuclear test on Sept. 9, the second this year, following one in January. The North has also launched multiple ballistic missiles in defiance of international opposition.

Japan’s unilateral sanctions on North Korea include an option to blacklist companies based in China or other countries known to be facilitating transactions with North Korea, a Japanese government source said earlier.

“We discussed practical measures we can take to increase costs on North Korea” until it abides by international commitments, Blinken said. “We will not accept North Korea as a nuclear state and we will not accept North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons.”

At the news conference, Sugiyama said Japan will “sincerely respond” to the announcement from a South Korean official earlier Thursday that Japan and South Korea will resume talks on signing an agreement to exchange military intelligence.

Japanese officials have been calling for the signing of the General Security of Military Information Agreement, or GSOMIA, citing threats posed by North Korea’s nuclear and missile development.

In 2012, Japan and South Korea were ready to sign the agreement, but Seoul postponed it at the last minute due to domestic opposition.

GSOMIA facilitates the exchange of sensitive information on military affairs while preventing such information from falling into the hands of other countries.

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