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N.Korean nuke, missile programs pose ongoing threat: Blinken

 
Washington, Jan 7 (IANS) North Korea's nuclear and missile programs pose an ongoing threat to the region and the international community, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

Blinken made the remarks on Thursday during annual security consultative talks with his Japanese counterpart, Yoshimasa Hayashi, that also involved US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Japanese Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi, reports Yonhap News Agency.

"Meanwhile, the DPRK's unlawful nuclear, missile programs pose an ongoing threat. And we saw that again this week with the most recent launch," Blinken said on Thursday, referring to North Korea's test launch of a self-claimed hypersonic missile on Wednesday.

DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the North's official name.

Blinken noted threats facing the allies included what he called China's "provocative actions" in the region and Russia's military build-up along the Ukraine border.

"So, to address these evolving threats, our alliance must not only strengthen the tools we have but also develop new ones," he told the virtual meeting. "And I think that's really the focus of the discussions that are about to happen."

On his part, Austin reiterated challenges posed by North Korea and others in the Indo-Pacific region.

"We're meeting against the backdrop of increased tensions and challenges to the free and stable and secure Indo-Pacific region that we both seek -- challenges posed by North Korea's nuclear ambitions and by the coercive and aggressive behaviour of the People's Republic of China.

"So together we are taking bold steps to improve our alliances, bolster our readiness and strengthen what I call integrated deterrence," he added.

This week's missile test marked North Korea's first missile launch since October 2021.

Pyongyang has claimed to have successfully test launched its first hypersonic missile last September.

--IANS
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