SEOUL, Senior defense officials from South Korea, the United States and Japan will hold annual trilateral security talks in Seoul this week, the defense ministry said Tuesday, with North Korea’s latest firing of projectiles likely to top the agenda.

During the 11th Defense Trilateral Talks, set for Thursday, the three countries “plan to explore ways to boost trilateral collaboration for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the establishment of a lasting peace,” according to the ministry.

Also on the table will be “assessments of regional security circumstances and trilateral military exchanges and cooperation,” it noted.

South Korea will be represented by Chung Suk-hwan, Deputy Minister for National Defense Policy, and his American and Japanese counterparts will be Randall Schriver, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, and Takeshi Ishikawa, director general for defense policy, according to the ministry.

The upcoming talks will take place just days after Pyongyang test-fired short-range projectiles off its east coast on Saturday. Since the firings, Seoul, Washington and Tokyo have maintained low-key responses, saying they will deal with the matter cautiously.

The meeting will also coincide with U.S. Special Representative Stephen Biegun’s two-day visit to Seoul, starting Thursday, for talks with senior diplomats here amid stalled nuclear talks between Washington and Pyongyang.

Launched in 2008, the trilateral annual forum, involving assistant deputy minister-level officials, is meant to serve as a venue for discussion of major regional security issues, including North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

Source: Yonhap news Agency