THE HAGUE, Netherlands - The leaders of South Korea, the US and Japan agreed Wednesday to have their chief negotiators on the North's nuclear weapons programme convene at an early date, boosting expectations for the resumption of the long-stalled six-nation talks.
At their trilateral meeting on the margins of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, they reaffirmed that the six-party talks should ensure "substantive progress" in dismantling Pyongyang's nuclear programs in a "complete, verifiable and irreversible" manner.
The 45-minute summit marked the first formal meeting between President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe since they took office more than a year ago.
"We need to induce North Korea to change its strategic calculations on the possession of nuclear weapons based on a strong international consensus against a nuclear-armed North Korea," Park said.
"To accomplish a common goal of scrapping North Korean nuclear weapons, we can explore various ways to resume dialogue if there is a guarantee that we can make substantive progress on the denuclearization front and block North Korea from beefing up its nuclear capabilities," Park said.
"With South Korea-US-Japan cooperation playing a key role, I hope the three countries' chief negotiators will meet soon and seek ways to bring about substantive progress on North Korea's denuclearization."
US President Barack Obama raised the need for Seoul, Washington and Tokyo to look into how to deepen their diplomatic and military partnership, including joint exercises and missile defence.
As one option, he proposed a fresh round of vice ministerial Defence Trilateral Talks, which were launched in 2008 to boost security collaboration between the three nations.
Cheong Wa Dae said the meeting could take place "as early as next month." A director-general level consultation took place in January 2013.
"Over the last five years, close coordination between our three countries has succeeded in changing the game with North Korea," Obama said.
"And our trilateral cooperation has sent a strong signal to Pyongyang that its provocations and threats will be met with a unified response and that the US commitment to the security of both Japan and the Republic of Korea is unwavering, and that a nuclear North Korea is unacceptable."