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US vows to boost 3-way coordination with Japan, S. Korea

This combined file photo shows (from L) South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump. (Kyodo)

WASHINGTON (Kyodo) -- The United States on Thursday pledged to strengthen trilateral coordination with Japan and South Korea despite a sharp deterioration in ties between the two U.S. allies.

"We're going to do everything we can to pursue ways to strengthen our relationships between and amongst all three countries both publicly and behind the scenes," State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said at a press briefing.

In an apparent reference to pressing issues such as denuclearization of North Korea and China's military buildup, Ortagus said Washington, Tokyo and Seoul "all face shared regional challenges and priorities in the Indo-Pacific and all around the world."

She, however, did not comment on sharply worsening ties between Japan and South Korea.

Tokyo has tightened rules for exporting semiconductor-related materials to South Korea, saying trust with Seoul has been broken in a dispute with the country over South Korean courts ordering Japanese companies to pay compensation to Korean laborers from World War II.

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