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U.S., S. Korea concerned about N. Korea's "reckless behavior": Burns


The United States and South Korea share concerns about North Korea's "reckless behavior," U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns said Tuesday after a meeting with South Korea's First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kyou Hyun.

Burns, who arrived late Monday for a two-day visit, told reporters the two allies "share a lot of concerns about the recent behavior of the (North Korean) leadership, and the dangers of further reckless behavior and provocations in the future."

He was speaking weeks after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's once-powerful uncle Jang Song Thaek was executed as a "traitor."

In recent days, North Korea has been demanding the cancelation of upcoming annual joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States, warning they could lead to an all-out war on the Korean Peninsula and even nuclear war.

But South Korea has refused to do so.

Later Tuesday, South Korea's Foreign Ministry issued a statement summarizing the meeting between Burns and Kim.

As for frosty relations between South Korea and Japan, Kim explained to Burns about South Korea's position and stressed that Japan needs to take sincere steps to make progress in bilateral relations," the statement said.

Burns and Kim "shared a common understanding that uncertainty is increasing in Northeast Asia and agreed to make joint efforts to resolve the issue and promote peace and cooperation in the region," according to the statement.

Ties between South Korea and Japan were further strained by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit last month to the war-related Yasukuni Shrine, a move that triggered protests from China and South Korea.

Japan has strongly reacted to China's establishment of an air defense identification zone over the East China Sea that includes airspace over the Japan-controlled Senkaku islets, which Beijing claims.

China's setting up of the ADIZ stirred controversy in the region as it overlaps similar zones operated by Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

Burns is also scheduled to meet Tuesday with Kim Jang Soo, South Korea's presidential secretary for national security.

He is slated to visit China and Japan later this week.