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People's Daily Online

Kerry confirms U.S.-S. Korea alliance against DPRK, favors harmony with Japan

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 13:53, May 18, 2015

SEOUL, May 18 -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his South Korean counterpart Yun Byung-se on Monday confirmed a firm U.S.-South Korea alliance against any threats from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) during their talks.

Speaking to reporters at a joint press conference with Yun, Kerry said the U.S.-South Korea alliance 'is absolutely stronger than ever,' noting that there is 'not an inch, not a centimeter, not a microscope' of difference between Washington and Seoul in their approach to Pyongyang's 'provocations and its nuclear program.'

'The biggest security concern' that the two allies should care together is the DPRK, Kerry said, adding that the two countries ' are working together with the same direction and the same goal.'

The top U.S. diplomat arrived in Seoul on Sunday afternoon for a two-day trip after visiting Beijing. It was his first visit to South Korea since February 2014.

Kerry's visit came amid rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula as the DPRK said on May 9 that it had successfully test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM).

If confirmed, the SLBM would pose a 'serious challenge' to the peninsula as well as the United States as it could mean the DPRK's submarine secretly sailing underwater and conducting a missile attack against the U.S. mainland.

Kerry said the SLBM test-launch was very provocative and in violation of the UN Security Council resolutions banning the DPRK from conducting any launches based on its ballistic missile technology.

He indicated further sanctions against the DPRK, saying that the U.S. and partner nations were talking about next steps on Pyongyang's 'reckless abandonment' of obligations under UN resolutions.

Touching on the frosty ties between South Korea and Japan for historical disputes, Kerry indirectly urged Seoul to mend ties with Tokyo, saying the historical issue should be dealt with in a direction of harmony and healing.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye has refused, since her inauguration in February 2013, to sit down face-to-face with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, citing his wrong perception of history.

During his speech in late April to a joint session of the U.S. Congress, Abe said he would 'uphold' statements made by his predecessors for Japan's past brutalities, but he fell short of mentioning Japan's 'colonial rule and aggression' and apologizing for wartime atrocities, triggering strong criticism from South Korea and China.

Abe stirred up an outrage from South Korean people by describing the 'comfort women' as an act of 'trafficking' of women by private agents, seeking to shirk the Japanese government's responsibility for abducting and raping the Korean women forced into sex slavery for the Japanese military brothels during World War II.

Regarding concerns about the revision of the U.S.-Japan defense cooperation guideline, Kerry said that 'nothing can be done' against South Korea when implementing the defense guidelines.

The guideline allowed Japan to operate its self-defense forces on the Korean Peninsula to assist American troops without advance consent from South Korea. Worries emerged that Japan may militarily intervene in the affairs on the peninsula as the U.S. forces automatically participate in the matter under the U.S.- South Korea agreement.

Before the foreign ministers' talks, Kerry paid a courtesy call to President Park who is scheduled to visit Washington in mid-June for a summit meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama.

Kerry will head back home later in the day after visiting the U. S. military base in Seoul and delivering a lecture on cyber security at Korea University.

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