United States, Japan and South Korea have denounced North Korea for its recent "unprovoked" attacks on the South and warned of "severe consequences" if further strikes are launched.
Days after North Korea attacked the Yeonpyeong islands resulting in the loss of South Korean lives, Foreign Ministers of the three countries met in Washington and alleged that the "provocative and belligerent" behaviour of Pyongyang threatens peace and stability in Asia.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who held closed-door talks with her Japanese and South Korean counterparts Seiji Maehara Kim Sung-hwan respectively, also said China "has a special role to play" in helping shape the behaviour of North Korea.
"We all agree that North Korea's provocative and belligerent behaviour jeopardises peace and stability in Asia. We are deeply concerned by its unprovoked attack on the island of Yeonpyeong, resulting in the loss of South Korean lives," Clinton told a joint press conference with the Japanese and South Korean Foreign Ministers.
"The minister and I share the view that the attack by the North Koreans violates the Armistice Agreement of 1953, that North Korea's provocative and belligerent behaviour threatens us all, and that it will be met with solidarity from all three countries," Clinton said.
Kim said the three countries firmly share the view that North Korea's armed attack poses a grave threat to the peace and security of not only the Korean Peninsula, but also the entire Asian-Pacific region.
"We, the three ministers, agreed that North Korea's shelling of Yeonpyeong Island is an unlawful act in clear violation of the UN charter, Korean Armistice Agreement of 1953 and basic agreement, and call on North Korea to cease its provocative behaviour.
"We also share the view that North Korea will face severe consequences if it engages further provocations," he said.
The Japanese foreign minister called on North Korea to comply with the Security Council resolutions and the joint statement of the Six-Party Talks.
"We also agree that there is a need for concrete action by DPRK. Also, the three countries agree that we would hope that China, which chairs the Six-Party Talks, to play an even greater role in relation to North Korea," he said.
The trilateral meeting reaffirmed the steps that North Korea must take in order for a resumption of six-party talks to produce results.
"North Korea must improve relations with the Republic of Korea and cease its provocative behavior. North Korea must also comply with its international obligations and take concrete steps to implement its denuclearisation commitments under the September 2005 Joint Statement," Clinton said.
Kim said the three countries also underscored that North Korea's uranium enrichment program is a clear violation of UN Security Council resolution as well as the joint statement of the September 2005.
"We reaffirmed that we will continue our efforts to realise the common goals of complete and verifiable denuclearisation of North Korea," Kim said.
Clinton said the three countries look forward to China playing a vital role in regional diplomacy.
"They have a unique relationship with North Korea, and we would hope that China would work with us to send a clear, unmistakable message to North Korea that they have to demonstrate a seriousness of purpose."
Clinton said the recent attack on the islands is the latest in a series of North Korean provocations.
North Korea has disclosed a uranium enrichment programme that violates UN Security Council Resolutions 1718 and 1874, as well as North Korea's commitments under the September 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks, she said.
"And the sinking of the 'Cheonan', killing 46 South Korean sailors, deepened North Korea's international isolation," she said.
Clinton said from day one, the Obama administration has made clear that North Korea needs to change.
The Secretary of State said the international community has repeatedly presented North Korean leadership with a path toward greater engagement and integration, but thus far that country has chosen the path of confrontation and isolation.
"The path to a better relationship and a secure and prosperous future is still open to North Korea if it makes the right choices. We remain committed to seeking opportunities for dialogue. But we will not reward North Korea for shattering the peace or defying the international community," she said.
She said the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen will lead a delegation to South Korea tonight to enhance coordination on strategic deterrence. He will then visit Tokyo.
Next week, she will be sending a high-level team to Asia to follow up on Tuesday's meeting.