Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Top diplomats of the United States, South Korea and Japan met to discuss North Korea and potential deployment to the Middle East as concerns remain over Pyongyang's warning of a "new strategic weapon."
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Seoul's top diplomat Kang Kyung-wha during a trilateral discussion held in Palo Alto, Calif., South Korean news service Newsis reported Wednesday.
The meeting was held the same day Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden criticized the Trump administration's North Korea policy.
When asked at the CNN/Des Moines Register Democratic presidential debate whether he would meet with Kim Jong Un "without preconditions," Biden said he would not undertake the same approach as President Donald Trump.
"I wouldn't meet with them without any preconditions. Look, we gave him everything he's looking for -- legitimacy. The president showed up, met with him, gave him legitimacy, weakened the sanctions we have against him."
Biden's remarks on sanctions are raising questions. On Tuesday, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Chinese and North Korean firms for violating U.N. Security Council embargoes on North Korea overseas workers.
Sanctions against North Korea for nuclear weapons development are endorsed in Seoul, but the administration of President Moon Jae-in is also seeking exemptions for inter-Korea projects.
On Tuesday Kang held discussions with Pompeo on South Korea's plans for inter-Korea cooperation on several projects: tourism to Mount Kumgang, connecting abandoned railroads, working with the North on a DMZ "peace zone," resuming operations at the Kaesong Industrial Complex and sports exchange.
Kang also said South Korea supports the U.S. approach to international maritime security in the Strait of Hormuz near Iran, a key oil-shipping route for Korea and Japan.
The United States has said it is willing to pursue talks with North Korea.
Voice of America reported Wednesday the Swedish government is in direct communication with Pyongyang and Washington on a potential next round of talks.
Talks ended last year without an agreement in Stockholm.