UPDATE1: Japan, Britain to cooperate toward new U.N. sanctions on N. Korea

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and British Prime Minister Theresa May agreed Tuesday to cooperate toward adopting at the U.N. Security Council a new sanctions resolution on North Korea in response to its fifth and largest nuclear test earlier this month.

In their first formal talks since May took office in July, the two leaders vowed to maintain close bilateral trade and investment relations despite Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, according to a senior Japanese official.

Abe said a series of missile launches and the Sept. 9 nuclear test “requires a different response as it posed a different level of threat from the past,” and that Japan wants to adopt a U.N. Security Council resolution with further sanctions measures in collaboration with Britain, one of the five permanent members of the council, according to the official.

Abe told May that Japan is considering imposing further unilateral sanctions on North Korea. He also asked London’s cooperation in addressing Pyongyang’s abduction of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s.

May was quoted by the official as saying that Britain can never tolerate North Korea’s latest nuclear test, and that the international community needs to respond in unison.

Referring to the “Brexit” vote in June, Abe requested that Japanese investors continue businesses in Britain even after it exits from the European Union.

May said Britain is committed to free trade, and that she will take measures to ensure that Japanese companies continue businesses in the country, according to the official.

Trade and investment ties with Japan are extremely important for Britain, May was quoted as saying.

Among other issues, Abe and May affirmed increased bilateral cooperation in the defense and security areas, with each country seeing the other as its closest security partner in Europe and Asia, respectively, according to the official.

Upholding the rule of law, the leaders agreed to cooperate in ensuring maritime security in the South China Sea, taking aim at Beijing’s militarization of artificial island outposts it has constructed atop disputed land features in an attempt to assert its claims in disputed waters.

Abe and May met on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York.


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