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By Shaun Tandon & Lisa Martin
US Vice President Kamala Harris and leaders from Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Canada vowed to pressure North Korea as they held urgent talks Friday on Pyongyang’s launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile. online news
Hours after North Korea launched the missile, which Japan said landed in its waters but was capable of striking the US mainland, Harris met the leaders of close US partners on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific summit in Bangkok.
“We strongly condemn these actions and we again call for North Korea to stop further unlawful, destabilising acts,” Harris told reporters at the start of the talks.
“On behalf of the United States, I reaffirm our ironclad commitment to our Indo-Pacific alliances,” she said, using another term for the Asia-Pacific region.
The launch follows weeks of spiralling tensions with North Korea, which US intelligence believes is preparing a seventh nuclear test.
A White House statement on the Bangkok talks said that the six leaders also warned of a “strong and resolute response” if North Korea — officially the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea — carries out the nuclear test.
The leaders agreed “that the path to dialogue remains open for the DPRK, and they called on the DPRK to abandon needless provocation and to return to serious and sustained diplomacy”, the statement said.
In a veiled reference to China, the primary backer of the isolated and impoverished country, the statement also called on all members of the United Nations to “fully implement” Security Council resolutions, which imposed broad sanctions on North Korea.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said that the leaders also wanted an emergency session of the UN Security Council — where China and Russia in May vetoed a US-led bid to tighten sanctions on North Korea.
“This is about the globe coming together to condemn the actions of North Korea, to stand up for peace and security in our region,” Albanese told Australian reporters.
But Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, speaking at the meeting, acknowledged concerns that North Korea is ignoring pressure.
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“There is the possibility that North Korea will launch further missiles,” Kishida said.
South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo said that the “brazen” missile launch must “never be tolerated”.
“The international community must respond in a resolute manner,” Han said.
It was the latest meeting on North Korea after US President Joe Biden met Sunday with Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol on the sidelines of a Southeast Asian summit in Cambodia.
They issued a similar warning against a nuclear test — prompting North Korea to denounce the three-way meeting as evidence of US hostility.
Friday’s meeting showed no backing down by the allies, which added three more countries to their common front.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the missile launch “reckless”.
“This is completely unacceptable and must not continue,” Trudeau told reporters.
He said that Canada planned to boost its military engagement in Asia as part of an upcoming regional strategy.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promised her country’s “ongoing response and strength of response”, saying she understood the “anxiety” of Japan and South Korea.
Despite the pressure campaign, the Biden administration believes that China ultimately is the country with the greatest chance of pressuring North Korea.
Biden met Monday with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali and voiced confidence that Beijing was “not looking for North Korea to engage in further escalation”.
Harris is participating in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting after Biden flew home for his granddaughter’s wedding.
Biden has offered to begin a working-level dialogue with North Korea but has seen no interest from Pyongyang.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un held three made-for-television meetings with Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, succeeding in easing tensions but reaching no lasting agreement.
The United States says it will never recognise North Korea as a nuclear power, while most experts believe Pyongyang will never give up its arsenal.
© Agence France-Presse. All rights are reserved.