Today, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan Shinsuke Sugiyama, and First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea (ROK) Lim Sung-nam met in Washington, DC, for the sixth round of Trilateral Vice Foreign Ministerial consultations. The U.S.-Japan-ROK Trilateral mechanism has established a durable framework for our three countries to leverage our collective strength to tackle the major challenges facing the region and, increasingly, to partner on global issues. Since the April 2015 inaugural meeting in Washington, DC, our three countries have coordinated responses to the growing nuclear and ballistic missile threat from North Korea, joined efforts to address a range of regional security issues, and worked together to forge innovative approaches to help address global priorities, such as space and cybersecurity, cancer research, and women's empowerment. This framework has already enabled us to expand our cooperation and establish patterns of trilateral partnership that will bear valuable results for our publics, the region, and the world beyond.
Responding to the North Korea Threat: North Korea's illicit nuclear and ballistic missile programs directly threaten the security of the United States, Japan, and the ROK. Our three countries share the belief that the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of North Korea remains the only viable option to safeguard peace and security. North Korea's provocations only serve to deepen its isolation. We continue to work with partners and countries around the globe to ensure all countries fully and effectively implement all relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, including Resolutions 2270 and 2321, adopted in 2016 to respond to North Korea's accelerated campaign to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missile There is broad international consensus that North Korea must refrain from its destabilizing actions and rhetoric, and focus on honoring its international obligations and commitments. These sanctions, along with our close trilateral coordination on our respective new unilateral sanctions against North Korea, are the latest steps in our ongoing efforts to convince North Korea that the only path to the economic development and international recognition it claims to seek is by returning to credible and meaningful negotiations on denuclearization. We continue to call the international community's attention to the North Korean regime's systematic, widespread, and gross human rights violations and abuses, including those involving abductions, and to humanitarian issues such as reunions of separated families. North Korea's nuclear programs are funded at the cost of the well-being of the North Korean people, who suffer economic deprivation and horrific human rights abuses at the hands of the Kim Jong Un regime. Our three countries have been at the forefront of international efforts to draw attention to and address the deplorable human rights violations committed by North Korea.
Trilateral Coordination and Strength of our Alliances: Following North Korea's unlawful nuclear tests and missile launches in 2016, diplomatic and defense officials from our three countries convened regular trilateral discussions to coordinate responses. Deputy Secretary Blinken underscored that the United States remains steadfast in its defense commitments to Japan and the ROK, respectively, including through providing extended deterrence, backed by the full range of its nuclear and conventional defense capabilities, and to implement various measures commensurate with the evolving North Korean threat. The U.S. alliances with Japan and the ROK remain ironclad.
Working Together to Promote Regional Cooperation: The United States, Japan, and the ROK share fundamental values embodied in our commitment to democracy, human rights, and open markets. Our continued efforts are critical to promoting regional security, including in the maritime domain. In our joint efforts to promote regional peace and stability, our three countries have worked in cooperation with other regional partners and strengthened existing mechanisms such as the East Asia Summit (EAS), Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) forum. Taking note of the importance of upholding the rules-based maritime order in the Asia-Pacific region in accordance with international law, our three countries emphasized all states should respect freedom of navigation and overflight, and other internationally lawful uses of the sea related to these freedoms. At the same time, we shared the view that the efforts to promote multilateral cooperation for peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia, such as the Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative proposed by the ROK, should continue.
Collaborating to Address Global Challenges: Our three countries are committed to harnessing the power of our governments, scientists, business leaders, and civil societies to improve the way we address a range of challenges. Since the beginning of the Trilateral Vice Foreign Ministerial Consultations, our three countries have come together to leverage our expertise inside and outside of government on more than a dozen global issues, including:
Cancer Moonshot Initiative: Vice President Biden convened a trilateral meeting of health ministers on September 19, 2016 in New York to expedite collaboration in support of the Cancer Moonshot Initiative focused on enhancing support for cancer research, expanding prevention, screening, and diagnostic measures, and standardizing and sharing data across borders to help end cancer.
Development Policy Priorities: At the first Trilateral Discussion on Development Policy held on July 8, 2016 in Washington, DC, our officials decided to work together to advance shared development policy priorities in five focused areas including global health, empowerment of women and girls, engaging the private sector in development, food security, and development in the Southeast Asia region.
Women's Empowerment: Our senior officials responsible for advancing women's empowerment headed the inaugural U.S.-ROK-Japan Women's Empowerment Trilateral Forum on September 27, 2016 in Washington, DC that brought together more than 50 elected officials and leaders from government, business, and civil society to promote women's political and economic participation in our three countries and to explore further coordination on development programs on adolescent girls' education around the world.
Cybersecurity: Our cyber policy experts consulted trilaterally on December 19, 2016 in Washington, DC regarding the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure, including a discussion of cyber trends and threats to critical infrastructure as well as a scenario-based discussion on responding to malicious cyber activities.
Space Policy: Based on our shared interest in expanding cooperation in the space sector, our officials met to discuss responses to address global challenges including minimization of space debris. Our three countries recognize the increasing importance of ensuring the sustainability of outer space activities and agreed to continue discussing possible cooperation in this area.
Global Health: Our technical experts have strengthened trilateral coordination and cooperation on health issues of mutual interest. Recognizing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) as a global threat to the health, security, and development potential of all nations, our three countries are collaborating technically and strategically on AMR.
Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief: As responsible global leaders, our three governments continue to exchange views and coordinate our common efforts to promote sustainable development, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief.
Food Security: As major global economic leaders, our three countries coordinate our activities to address the significant challenge of global food security.
Oceans and the Environment: Our three countries have exchanged views on policy issues and reaffirmed their commitments concerning marine conservation at the 3rd Our Ocean Conference held on September 15 and 16, 2016 in Washington, DC. We are also working together on issues related to the Arctic as well as preventing marine debris, particularly plastics, from entering our oceans.
Illegal Logging: Officials from our three countries shared information and best practices on domestic laws and implementation, international law enforcement networking, and customs and borders enforcement to eliminate illegal logging.
Energy Security: In an effort to create a more flexible energy market, our three countries work together on renewable energy. Our officials met to discuss how we can increase our efforts to ensure secure supplies of energy.
Cooperation in the Middle East and North Africa: Our three countries' senior officials held a trilateral dialogue on June 13, 2016 in Washington, DC to discuss increasing cooperation related to the Middle East and North Africa.
As active and responsible global leaders, the United States, Japan, and the ROK look forward to sustaining and expanding our close trilateral cooperation and consultation through the expansion of our valuable trilateral initiatives. Committed to a better and safer world, our three countries recognize the impact our trilateral cooperation can have in advancing peace and security, countering the North Korean threat, and in tackling global challenges.
Source: U.S Department of State