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U.S., South Korea, Japan Meet in Washington for Further Coordination of Indo-Pacific Axis

Representatives of the U.S., Japan and South Korea met in Washington on Jan. 5 for the first meeting of the trilateral Indo-Pacific Dialogue since it was established by the leaders of the three countries last August. The State Department stated: “Led by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel J. Kritenbrink, Japanese Deputy Minister/Director-General Kobe Yasuhiro, and Republic of Korea Deputy Minister Chung Byung-won, the meeting built upon commitments made during the Trilateral Leaders’ Summit at Camp David hosted by President Joseph Biden on August 18, 2023.”

After some flowery language about Indo-Pacific cooperation, the statement turned to confrontation: “While focusing on the opportunities for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, the partners also noted with concern worrying trends in the region,” including Myanmar, the statement said. “Recalling the publicly announced positions of the three countries regarding the recent dangerous and escalatory behavior supporting unlawful maritime claims by the P.R.C. in the South China Sea, they strongly reiterated their firm commitment to international law, including the freedom of navigation and overflight, as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and they opposed any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion anywhere in the waters of the Indo-Pacific. They condemned [North Korea] the D.P.R.K.’s continued development of its unlawful nuclear and ballistic missile programs, growing military cooperation with Russia, and grave human rights violations and abuses. They reaffirmed the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait as indispensable to security and prosperity in the international community.”