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Japan, EU reaffirm support for North Korea's 'complete, irreversible' denuclearization

Japan, EU reaffirm support for North Korea's 'complete, irreversible' denuclearization
North Korea’s nuclear facilities have remained off limits for more than a decade. File Photo by W. Keith Luse/UPI | License Photo

May 27 (UPI) -- Japan and the European Union agreed on China and North Korea issues Thursday during a virtual summit where world leaders mentioned Taiwan for the first time.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and President of the European Council Charles Michel said in a EU-Japan Summit joint statement that nations will work together toward North Korea denuclearization.

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"We will remain steadfast in our support to nuclear non-proliferation efforts, including to achieve the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement by North Korea of its nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction and its ballistic missiles programs of all ranges, in compliance with all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions," Japanese and EU leader said.

The language used to refer to denuclearization contrasted with the statement issued by the United States and South Korea last week, which referred to denuclearization as a process affecting the entire "Korean Peninsula," or both North and South Korea.

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Tokyo and Brussels also agreed that talks for peace should continue despite lack of progress.

Nations will support the "diplomatic engagement towards peace and security on the Korean Peninsula," the statement read.

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The EU and Japan also addressed Chinese maneuvers at sea, expressing "serious concern" about the "situation in the East and South China Seas."

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"We strongly oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo and increase tensions. We reaffirm the critical importance of respecting international law, in particular the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea."

Suga and others said they "underscore the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and encourage the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues," and agree to "coordinate closely" on Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

Japan drew China's ire last month after Suga met with U.S. President Joe Biden, and issued a joint statement addressing Taiwan. The reference to the Taiwan Strait on Thursday is a first for the EU and Japan, according to Yomiuri Shimbun.

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European militaries have been deploying warships to Asia. French troops exercised with Japan and the United States in early May, and Britain is deploying a new aircraft carrier with stops in Japan and South Korea, according to Bloomberg.

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