SEOUL, July 15 (UPI) — U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts on Thursday in Honolulu to discuss close cooperation on North Korea.
At a trilateral meeting held in Honolulu the three officials also agreed to peacefully resolve the controversy over China’s claims in the South China Sea, South Korean news service News 1 reported.
Tensions with China have also simmered over a joint decision to deploy the U.S. anti-missile defense system THAAD but on Thursday Blinken told reporters THAAD placement in South Korea is not a measure aimed at a third country.
Beijing has said it is concerned the system could be used for regional surveillance that could expand on the U.S. policy of a “Pivot to Asia.”
Blinken also said because the threat level is rising due to advancements in North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities, deterrents are necessary measures that protect the safety of the homeland and U.S. allies.
Defense measures are not trying to target other countries, Blinken said, without referring to China by name.
South Korea’s foreign ministry issued a statement condemning North Korea’s weapons program.
“The vice foreign ministers of the three countries shared the view that the North’s pursuit of nuclear and missile development poses a grave and direct threat to them, and hurts peace and stability not only on the Korean peninsula but the international community as a whole,” the ministry said.
— Antony Blinken (@ABlinken) July 15, 2016
Vice President Joe Biden was in attendance at all the trilateral meetings, where he offered words of encouragement on the shared vision of the Asia-Pacific region among the states, according to South Korea press.