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(LEAD) Blinken Condemns N.K. Missile Launch In Call With Japanese Counterpart

(ATTENTION: UPDATES with reports of US Secretary of State Blinken’s call with his Japanese counterpart in paragraphs 2 and 3; headline REFORM, header; RESTRUCTURES)
Byun Duk-kun

WASHINGTON, Feb. 1 (Yonhap) — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned North Korea’s recent missile tests in a phone conversation with his Japanese counterpart Hayashi Yoshimasa on Tuesday.

The top US diplomat also promised to cooperate with South Korea and Japan to completely denuclearize the Korean peninsula, according to state department spokesman Ned Price.

“Secretary Blinken Condemned The DPRK’s Recent Ballistic Missile Launches, Which Violated Multiple UN Security Council Resolutions, And Pledged To Trilaterally Cooperate With Japan And The ROK For The Complete Denuclearization Of The Korean Peninsula” Price said in a press release. .

Blinken-Hayashi’s call came after North Korea launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile on Sunday (Seoul time) that it later identified as a “Hwasong 12-type long-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile.”

The launch marked the North’s seventh missile test this year.

Price said Monday that the United States will continue to pursue diplomacy with North Korea, but will also take steps to hold the North accountable for its actions.

Earlier reports said the United States has called for a UN Security Council meeting to be held this week to discuss North Korea’s recent series of missile tests.

US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman also denounced the North’s recent missile launches as “escalational” and “destabilizing” in a trilogue with her Japanese and South Korean counterparts that day.

“Under Secretary Sherman Denounced The DPRK’s Recent And Staggered Ballistic Missile Launches As Violations Of UN Security Council Resolutions And As Destabilizing For The Region And Discussed Ongoing Efforts To Achieve Complete Denuclearization Of The Korean Peninsula Price said of Sherman’s call with South Korea’s first vice president. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Choi Jong-kun, and the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan, Mori Takeo.

“The deputy secretary highlighted the continued readiness of the United States to engage in serious and sustained diplomacy with the DPRK in order to achieve tangible progress,” he added in a press release.

DPRK stands for Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the official name of the North.

Sherman and his counterparts from Japan and South Korea stressed the importance of cooperation between their countries in dealing with regional challenges, according to the department’s spokesman.

“The deputy secretary and the deputy foreign ministers reaffirmed the importance of trilateral cooperation between the United States, the Republic of Korea and Japan in meeting pressing challenges in the region and around the world,” he said, referring to South Korea for his official name, the Republic of Korea.

The three-way talk also came after US Special Representative for North Korea Sung Kim held separate talks with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts over the weekend.

During their talks, the US special envoy condemned North Korea’s recent missile launch but also emphasized the US readiness for serious and sustained diplomacy with the North, the State Department said.

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