Posted July. 22, 2010 11:14,
The foreign and defense ministers of South Korea and the U.S. warned North Korea Wednesday against further attacks or hostilities against the South, pledging serious consequences for any such irresponsible behavior.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned of fresh provocations by Pyongyang, citing "some indication over the last number of months" as the North is in the process of transferring power to the third son of its leader Kim Jong Il.
So I think it is something that we have to look at very closely, he said, though saying no concrete evidence of additional provocations has appeared. We have to keep it in mind and be very vigilant.
A joint statement adopted at the talks said Seoul and Washington shared the view that such an irresponsible military provocation poses a grave threat to peace and stability not only on the Korean Peninsula but also in the region.
They also urged the North to take responsibility for the attack on the South Korean naval vessel Cheonan.
The statement said Pyongyang should abandon all its nuclear programs and its pursuit of nuclear weapons in a complete and verifiable manner, and to demonstrate its genuine will for denuclearization with concrete actions.
South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan said, It is not yet time to consider an exit strategy for the Cheonan incident but to put all international efforts into making the North admit its wrongdoing, apologize for it, and promise not to do it again.
Seoul and Washington also announced a plan to conduct joint naval exercises in the East Sea and the Yellow Sea in the wake of the Cheonan sinking. They said they are committed to maintain a robust combined defense posture capable of deterring and defeating any and all North Korean threats.
In support of the bilateral decision last month to postpone the U.S. transfer of wartime operational control over to South Korea until December 2015, both sides decided to complete a new plan, Strategic Alliance 2015, by this year`s Security Consultative Meeting, in Washington in October.
They also agreed to consider holding further foreign and defense ministers` meetings, as necessary, and to hold foreign and defense officials` meetings at the deputy minister/assistant secretary level on a regular basis.