Kerry: U.S., China 'absolutely united' on denuclearization of N. Korea

By Kim Deok-hyun

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei, July 1 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that Washington, Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo are "absolutely united" in their efforts to convince North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program.

Kerry made the remarks after holding bilateral talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the sidelines of a regional security forum here. He also held three-way talks with the top diplomats of South Korea and Japan before meeting with Wang.

"All four of us are absolutely united and absolutely firm in our insistence that the future with respect to North Korea must include denuclearization," Kerry said in a press conference. "China made it clear to me that they have made very firm statements and very firm steps they have taken with respect to the implementation of that policy."

After months of high tension triggered by the North's third nuclear test in February and bellicose threats against South Korea and the U.S., North Korea appeared to be shifting to dialogue in recent weeks.

During the separate meetings with Wang, South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, Kerry said, "And in the end, we know that the only way to find peace that we want and the stability we want is for North Korea to honor its commitments made on the Sept. 19, 2005, joint statement of the six-party talks which refers very specifically to verifiable denuclearization."

North Korea walked out of the Sept. 19, 2005, deal after conducting its first nuclear test the next year.

The six-party talks, involving the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan, have been dormant since late 2008.

China is a key provider of economic aid and diplomatic protection to North Korea, but bilateral ties appear to have been strained since the North's third nuclear test.

South Korea, the U.S., China and Japan "want North Korea to understand that the region will be better with denuclearization," Kerry said.

Kerry was in Brunei for the 27-member ASEAN Regional Forum that opened on Monday.

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