• Kerry shows united front on North Korea

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    US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a press conference at the ASEAN Ministers Meeting in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, on Monday. AFP PHOTO

    BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN: US Secretary of State John Kerry sought on Monday to present a united front against North Korea’s nuclear ambitions as he met his counterparts from China, Japan and South Korea.

    Kerry, meeting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific meeting in Brunei, said that the two “both reaffirmed strongly the seriousness” of commitment to the denuclearization of North Korea.

    “We look forward to working with you to accomplish this goal,” Kerry said in brief remarks at the start of his meeting.

    China is the main ally of North Korea, which defiantly carried out its third nuclear weapons test in February and threatened to attack the United States, in language that was shrill even by the standards of the reclusive communist state.

    US officials have credited China with taking a firmer line against the North Korean regime headed by Kim Jong-un, as part of international sanctions.

    This includes reports that state-owned Bank of China shut the account of a key North Korean government-controlled bank.

    Kerry also met jointly with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korea’s Yun Byung-Se. The two foreign ministers were expected later to meet one-on-one, their first such encounter since each country voted in new governments.

    “The three of us, our countries, are working very, very hard together on a number of critical issues,” Kerry said at the start of the three-way meeting, listing North Korea as one item of common concern.

    Yun said North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons “will never be tolerated” and that Pyongyang will “face further isolation and dire consequences in the event of provocations.”

    South Korea and Japan, which are both close US allies, have prickly bilateral relations because of disputes related to Tokyo’s colonial rule of the Korean peninsula.

    Yun called off a visit to Tokyo in April after two Japanese Cabinet ministers paid respects at the Yasukuni Shrine, which venerates 2.5 million Japanese war dead including prominent war criminals.

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