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Nuclear envoys vow to tackle North’s threats together

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From left, Kim Gunn, special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs; Sung Kim, U.S. special representative for North Korea; and Takehiro Funakoshi, director general for Asian and Oceanian affairs bureau of the Japanese Foreign Ministry, shake hands during a meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Tuesday. [MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS]
From left, Kim Gunn, special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs; Sung Kim, U.S. special representative for North Korea; and Takehiro Funakoshi, director general for Asian and Oceanian affairs bureau of the Japanese Foreign Ministry, shake hands during a meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Tuesday. [MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS]

Special envoys from South Korea, Japan, and the United States vowed to crack down on North Korea’s illicit cyber activities.

“We will redouble our efforts to prevent North Korea from financing its nuclear weapon and missile program via cyber activities,” said the Foreign Ministry in Seoul following a meeting of the three envoys Tuesday.

“There is nothing that North Korea can earn through its provocations, and Korea, the United States and Japan will show that through its cooperation.”

Kim Gunn, a special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, met with Sung Kim, U.S. special representative for North Korea, and Takehiro Funakoshi, director general for the Asian and Oceanian affairs bureau of the Japanese Foreign Ministry, in Jakarta on Tuesday.

The trio met in Tokyo in September and have since spoken multiple times over the phone.

The North has fired over 60 ballistic missiles this year, 32 since late September. It launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Nov. 18, its largest ICBM test so far.

“The barrage of provocations by Pyongyang has only strengthened our trilateral coordination,” Kim Gunn said during the meeting, according to the Foreign Ministry. “We will coordinate sanctions and close gaps in the international sanctions regime.”

Seoul, Tokyo and Washington levied unilateral sanctions earlier this month on individuals and entities linked to the financing of North Korea’s weapons programs. The European Union added new unilateral sanctions on Monday.

China was also mentioned at the meeting.

“The three envoys especially emphasized the importance of encouraging China to play a constructive role in having North Korea cease its provocations and return to denuclearization dialogue,” said the Foreign Ministry in Seoul.

Having met with the American envoy separately on Monday, Kim was scheduled to meet with Takehiro later on Tuesday afternoon.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink, left, meets with Deputy Foreign Minister Choi Young-sam at the Foreign Ministry in Seoul on Tuesday. [MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS]
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink, left, meets with Deputy Foreign Minister Choi Young-sam at the Foreign Ministry in Seoul on Tuesday. [MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS]

In Seoul on Tuesday, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink discussed security on the Korean Peninsula in a meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister Choi Young-sam.

“The two shared the view that the international community’s will to denuclearize North Korea is stronger than North Korea’s will to develop nuclear weapons and missiles,” said the Foreign Ministry in Seoul in a statement.

“The two agreed to maintain a strong ROK-U.S. combined defense posture, and agreed to unwaveringly pursue diplomatic efforts to have North Korea cease its provocations and return to dialogue,” it said, referring to South Korea by the acronym of its full name, the Republic of Korea.

The two were also expected to have discussed Washington’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

Korea is concerned about the IRA’s effects on the electronic vehicles (EVs) it produces, as the law prohibits subsidies for purchases of EVs made outside the United States or with batteries made with Chinese minerals or components. Hyundai Motor and Kia both make EVs in local plants in Korea.

Second Vice Foreign Minister Lee Do-hoon, left, meets with Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth Jose Fernandez in Washington on Monday. [YONHAP]
Second Vice Foreign Minister Lee Do-hoon, left, meets with Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth Jose Fernandez in Washington on Monday. [YONHAP]

Second Vice Foreign Minister Lee Do-hoon is in Washington through Wednesday to meet with Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth Jose Fernandez and members of the U.S. Congress to raise Korea’s concerns about the IRA.

Lee and Fernandez hosted the Senior Economic Dialogue in Washington on Monday, a regular meeting between U.S. and Korean officials to discuss business and trade relations, including cooperation on semiconductors, batteries, and minerals.

Lee conveyed the Korean government’s position on the IRA to Fernandez, asking that it be taken into account when the U.S. Treasury Department drafts implementation measures for the IRA, said the Foreign Ministry in Seoul.

Fernandez said in response that he was taking Korea’s concerns “very seriously from the beginning” and was looking at them from all angles, said the ministry.

BY ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]