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Japan, U.S., S. Korea vow to maximize pressure on N. Korea

VANCOUVER — The foreign ministers of Japan, the United States and South Korea agreed Tuesday to assist countries lacking maritime law-enforcement capabilities to enforce U.N. sanctions on North Korea as part of efforts to maximize pressure on Pyongyang to compel it to give up its nuclear ambitions.


The envisaged assistance would involve cargo inspections at sea on vessels suspected of transporting embargoed goods to and from North Korea, a Japanese Foreign Ministry official told reporters after trilateral talks in Vancouver, Canada.


The three countries could also help other states file sanctions enforcement reports with the United Nations, the official said, citing a low submission rate.


Including such efforts, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung Wha affirmed close coordination in leading an international campaign to raise pressure on North Korea to “the highest possible level.”


In a separate meeting, Kono lodged a protest with Tillerson over a series of incidents involving U.S. military aircraft in Japan’s southern island prefecture of Okinawa, including emergency landings by two military helicopters recently, according to another Foreign Ministry official.


Referring to growing anxiety among residents of Okinawa, which hosts the bulk of U.S. military facilities in Japan, Kono requested that the U.S. military step up measures to prevent the recurrence of similar instances, the official said.


Tillerson was quoted by the official as saying that the United States will increase efforts to ensure the maintenance of U.S. military planes and the safety of their operations.


Speaking to reporters earlier Tuesday, Kono said he also held separate talks with his counterparts from Britain, Turkey, Denmark, Norway, New Zealand and the Netherlands on the sidelines of a 20-nation ministerial meeting on addressing North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs in the western Canada city.


Kono said he and his foreign counterparts agreed on the need to maximize pressure on North Korea to force it to change its provocative behavior.

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