South Korea's foreign minister held a meeting with top U.S. and Japanese envoys to Seoul on Tuesday to discuss cooperation in dealing with North Korea's growing nuclear and missile threats.
Yun Byung-se hosted Acting U.S. Ambassador Marc Knapper and Japanese Ambassador Yasumasa Nagamine in his office.
The unusual three-way meeting followed Yun's talks with his U.S. and Japanese counterparts -- Rex Tillerson and Fumio Kishida -- in New York last week.
"It is aimed at sharing what was discussed during the New York meeting and exchanging views on diverse possibilities in the future (with regard to the North)," Cho June-hyuck, foreign ministry's spokesman, said at a regular press briefing held before the meeting.
They are also said to have reaffirmed their continued cooperation against the North regardless of who will become the next president of South Korea in the May 9 election.
The meeting, in particular, marked Yun's first official meeting with Nagamine after the ambassador returned in early April from a nearly three-month stay in Japan amid friction between the neighbors over a controversial girl statue symbolizing the victims of Japan's sexual enslavement during World War II.
Upon his return to Seoul, Nagamine sought to meet with high-ranking officials, including Acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, to apparently deliver Tokyo's request for the removal of the statue installed in front of its consulate in the southeastern port city of Busan.
Later in the day, Yun and Nagamine had a separate meeting in which the Japanese ambassador delivered his government's stance on the statue issue, according to a ministry official.
"We also delivered our current position on that matter," he said.
Japan has claimed that installing such a statue runs counter to the spirit of a 2015 deal to resolve the long-running rift between the two countries over the sexual enslavement of Korean women by Japanese troops during World War II.
South Korea has tried not to get directly involved in the statue issue as it was built by a civic group but underlined the need for its relocation to an "appropriate" site. (Yonhap)