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S. Korea, Australia united against N. Korea’s provocation

September 11, 2015
South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo, left, and Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se stand alongside of Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, second from right, and Defense Minister Kevin Andrews, right, during a wreath-laying ceremony at the Korean War Memorial in Sydney, Friday, Sept. 11, 2015. Bilateral meetings between the nations are taking place later in the day. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo, left, and Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se stand alongside of Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, second from right, and Defense Minister Kevin Andrews, right, during a wreath-laying ceremony at the Korean War Memorial in Sydney, Friday, Sept. 11, 2015. Bilateral meetings between the nations are taking place later in the day. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

SEOUL (Yonhap) — In high-level security talks, South Korea and Australia reaffirmed their unity Friday in pressing North Korea to halt provocative acts and return to the nuclear negotiations.

Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and Defense Minister Han Min-koo had a 2+2 meeting with their Australian counterparts Julie Bishop and Kevin Andrews in Sydney.

“The ministers strongly deplored North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, which threaten peace and security of the region and undermine the global non-proliferation regime,” read the joint statement.

They were also united in calling on Pyongyang to fully comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions and the six-party deal on its nuclear program made on Sept. 19, 2005.

In the 2005 accord, the North agreed to abandon its nuclear program in return for political and economic incentives from the South, the U.S., China, Japan, and Russia.

But the secretive North has apparently continued to develop its nuclear weapons capabilities, with the six-way talks suspended since late 2008.

The ministers described the North’s two-prong policy of developing nuclear weapons and its economy simultaneously as “misguided.”

“Both sides urged North Korea to return to a meaningful dialogue at an early date with sincerity, which would pave the way for the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” the statement read.

Australia is the only country with which South Korea has such a 2+2 high-level security session except for its ally the U.S.

In that regard, the ministers “reaffirmed the importance of Australia-ROK-United States trilateral defense cooperation, and decided to explore opportunities to increase this.”

South Korea’s security ties with Australia date back to the 1950-53 Korean War.

Australia sent more than 17,000 troops to help the South fight against the invading North. Around 340 Australian servicemen died during the conflict.

Before the talks, Yun and Han, along with the Australian ministers, paid their respects at the Korean War Memorial in Sydney.

The next 2+2 meeting will be held in Seoul in 2017.

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