(LEAD) Cho, Blinken hold talks over N. Korean threats, trilateral cooperation with Japan

The top diplomats of South Korea and the United States held talks in Washington on Wednesday, as the two countries have been striving to strengthen cooperation to counter evolving North Korean threats and other shared challenges. Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken held their first bilateral in-person meeting since Cho took office last month, amid concerns that Pyongyang could ratchet up tensions ahead of parliamentary elections in South Korea in April and the U.S. presidential vote in November. Noting the two countries' determination to strengthen their alliance into a "global comprehensive strategic alliance," Cho stressed that Seoul and Washington have "always moved in lockstep" in the face of regional and global challenges. "We are one in condemning North Korea's increasingly provocative rhetoric and actions that violate multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions, including its export of munitions and ballistic missiles to Russia," he said. "We continue to stand tog ether in supporting Ukraine, and we are united in condemning Houthi attacks and working together to uphold navigational rights and freedoms in the Gulf of Aden," he added. Cho also noted "historic strides" in trilateral cooperation with Japan as evidenced by last year's three-way Camp David summit. "Strengthening our trilateral coordination is essential for addressing common security challenges, promoting stability and enhancing prosperity in the Indo-Pacific," he said. Blinken underscored the "stronger" partnership between Seoul and Washington on a "bilateral, regional and global" basis. "That's largely because of the extraordinary leadership that Korea shows. ... Something that the United States is grateful for," he said. "We're working together on virtually every major challenge that we have to contend with around the world, as well as working together to build even greater opportunities for our people here in the United States and in South Korea." Cho and Blinken were expected to discuss ways to rei nforce the allies' efforts to deter North Korean threats and strengthen cooperation for economic security under a joint effort to enhance the two countries' "global comprehensive strategic alliance," Seoul officials have said. They could also touch on ongoing joint efforts to establish a robust nuclear deterrence mechanism through the two countries' Nuclear Consultative Group, a key body to discuss nuclear and strategic planning issues. Source: Yonhap News Agency