U.S., Japan, South Korea defense ministers emphasize cross-strait peace

06/11/2022 10:04 PM
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From left: Japanese Minister of Defense Kishi Nobuo, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and South Korean Minister of National Defense Lee Jong-Sup. Photo: Japanese defense ministry
From left: Japanese Minister of Defense Kishi Nobuo, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and South Korean Minister of National Defense Lee Jong-Sup. Photo: Japanese defense ministry's Twitter page @ModJapan_jp

Singapore, June 11 (CNA) Defense ministers from the United States, Japan, and South Korea on Saturday emphasized the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait in a trilateral ministerial meeting held in Singapore.

It was the first time that the trilateral ministerial meeting had raised the issue concerning the situation across the Taiwan Strait.

The meeting between U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and his counterparts -- Japanese Minister of Defense Kishi Nobuo and Republic of Korea Minister of National Defense Lee Jong-Sup -- took place on the sidelines of the ongoing Shangri-La Dialogue, a key regional security forum.

During their meeting, the defense ministers concurred in the importance of deepening trilateral cooperation on key issues to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific region, and voiced strong opposition against any unilateral actions to change the status quo and increase tensions in the region, according to a joint statement released after the meeting.

"They emphasized the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait," the statement said. "They also reaffirmed that all disputes should be resolved in a peaceful manner in accordance with the principles of international law."

The statement came after Austin warned China in a speech at the forum earlier on Saturday against taking a "coercive and aggressive" approach to its territorial claims, saying the stakes were especially high in the Taiwan Strait.

"Maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait isn't just a U.S. interest. It's a matter of international concern," Austin said in his speech, addressing China's "growing coercion" against Taiwan as Chinese military planes have flown near Taiwan in record numbers in recent months.

"The stakes are especially stark in the Taiwan Strait," Austin said.

Meanwhile, at the trilateral meeting, the three defense ministers also discussed the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the statement said.

The three top defense officials pledged that Washington, Tokyo, and Seoul would cooperate closely toward their commitment to achieving the complete denuclearization and establishment of permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula, the statement said.

In addition, the three ministers affirmed the importance of the full implementation of relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions by the international community, according to the statement.

It was the first trilateral defense ministerial meeting among the three countries in two and half years after a similar meeting was held in November 2019.

On Friday, Austin met with China's Minister of National Defense Wei Fenghe (魏鳳和), also on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue.

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, Austin "called on the PRC (People's Republic of China) to refrain from further destabilizing actions toward Taiwan."

In the meeting with Wei, Austin reiterated that Washington remained committed to the country's longstanding "one China policy," which is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), the Three U.S.-China Joint Communiques and the Six Assurances.

Wei, in a statement released by China's Ministry of National Defense, urged the U.S. not to intervene in China's internal politics and undermine China's interests, adding that any effort by Washington to use Taipei as a means to take on Beijing was doomed to failure.

(By Huang Ming-hsi, Shih Hsiu-chuan and Frances Huang)

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