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Kerry shows united front on North Korea

John Kerry (centre) shakes hands with Fumio Kishida (left) and Yun Byung-se in Brunei, on July 1, 2013
US Secretary of State John Kerry (centre) is flanked by Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida (left) and his South Korean counterpart Yun Byung-se at the ASEAN meeting in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, on July 1, 2013.

US Secretary of State John Kerry sought 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 denuclearisation of North Korea.

Wang Yi (left) shakes hands with John Kerry at the ASEAN meeting in Bruinei, on July 1, 2013
China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi (left) shakes hands with US Secretary of State John Kerry at the ASEAN meeting in Bruinei's capital Bandar Seri Begawan, on July 1, 2013.

"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.

A North Korean soldier stands guard at the truce village of Panmunjom, on April 23, 2013
A North Korean soldier stands guard at the truce village of Panmunjom, on April 23, 2013.

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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