Jan. 11 (UPI) -- South Korean and Japanese negotiators on the North Korea nuclear issue are exchanging views and sharing information despite tensions between Seoul and Tokyo.
The South Korean foreign ministry said Friday Lee Do-hoon, Seoul's representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, and Kenji Kanasugi, director general of the Japanese foreign ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, spoke on the phone to discuss a potential summit between Kim Jong Un and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, News 1 reported Friday.
The two sides also shared an assessment of the current situation, and discussed ways to cooperate on the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the establishment of a permanent peace regime, according to the report.
The South Korean government has engaged with North Korea, but the country's military has not stopped expanding its budget to acquire new weapons and improve defense capabilities, local news service Newsis reported Friday.
According to its medium-term plan for 2019-23, the defense ministry is to spend about $84 billion in improving defense capabilities and $157 billion for operations, or a total of about $241 billion in the five-year period. This figure is nearly a $29 billion increase from the 2018-22 budget.
The military is changing the names of strategies that target the North, however.
The policy known as South Korea's "three-axis system" that includes Seoul's homegrown anti-missile systems, the Korean Air and Missile Defense and Kill Chain, a pre-emptive strike system, will be renamed as the "response system to nuclear and weapons of mass destruction" threats.
Under the new title, the defense ministry plans to continue with acquisitions, including the purchase of the newest F-35A fighter jets, ground-based tactical weapons and the Patriot Advanced Capability-3, a ballistic missile defense system.