By Tetsushi Kajimoto and Ju-min Park
TOKYO/SEOUL (Reuters) -Defence chiefs from South Korea, Japan and the United States have agreed to start as planned a real-time data sharing scheme on North Korean missiles in December, South Korea’s defence ministry said on Sunday.
U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin met his South Korean counterpart, Shin Won-sik, in Seoul on Sunday with Japanese Defence Minister Minoru Kihara joining the meeting online.
The ministers discussed strengthening their three-way cooperation in the face of “severe security environments”, Kihara told reporters. It was the first time the three ministers held such a gathering, he said.
“We confirmed that we are steadily making adjustments, bringing the process to the final stage,” Kihara added.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol on Sunday called for the maintenance of readiness posture by the South Korean and U.S. military forces in case of “any provocations” by North Korea including a Hamas-style surprise attack.
Yoon made the remark during a dinner with the U.S. delegation for a Security Consultative Meeting scheduled to be held on Monday including Austin and U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg, Yoon’s spokesperson said.
U.S. President Joe Biden agreed with Yoon and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at an Aug. 18 summit that by the end of this year the three countries would share North Korea missile warning data in real time.
The ministers also condemned growing military cooperation between North Korea and Russia as a violation of U.N. resolutions, the South Korean defence ministry said in a statement, and also stressed the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.
Separately, General Charles Q. Brown, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, held talks with his South Korean counterpart in Seoul on Sunday, the South Korean military said.
In his first visit to South Korea since he took office in October, the top U.S. general discussed the “continuous provocations” of North Korea including missile launches, and reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to the defence of South Korea, the South Korean joint chiefs of staff said in a statement.
(Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto in TOKYO and Ju-min Park in SEOUL; editing by Miral Fahmy and Sandra Maler)