N. Korea nurtured growing bond among S. Korea, U.S., Japan: official
N. Korea nurtured growing bond among S. Korea, U.S., Japan: official SEOUL, Jan. 18 (Yonhap) -- A senior U.S. defense official said Tuesday that North Korea's warlike behavior was a catalyst for stronger ties to develop among some of the communist regime's nearest neighbors, as South Korea, the United States and Japan sought joint measures against North Korean threats.
"Certainly, North Korea has played a central role in facilitating the development of trilateral cooperation over the years," Derek Mitchell, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, said during a trilateral foreign policy symposium in Seoul that brought together officials and experts from the three allies.
"We have demonstrated repeatedly that far from dividing us, it has only strengthened our mutual resolve, unity and common purpose," he said.
The assistant secretary, however, stressed that trilateral cooperation should not be limited to security concerns in relation to North Korea, and called for constructive joint efforts in promoting sustainable economic development and energy production worldwide, preventing pandemic flu outbreaks and fighting piracy off the coast of Africa, among other issues.
In support of such ideas, one Japanese delegate proposed a venue for such three-way cooperation to reach higher levels.
"Some of the issues that the three countries could cooperate ... may include, first, hosting a trilateral foreign and defense ministers' meeting -- so-called 2+2+2," said Yasuhisa Shiozaki, an opposition party member of the Japanese House of Representatives.
His suggestion comes a week after the South Korean and Japanese defense chiefs agreed to work toward a military cooperation agreement during a meeting in Seoul, paving the way for the first pact of its kind since Tokyo's brutal occupation of Korea in the early 20th century.
Shiozaki stressed that South Korea and Japan will face an "existential threat" if North Korea continues to develop nuclear weapons under the protection of its chief ally and benefactor China.