US, S.Korea and Japan agree to hold joint military exercises

Japanese Defense Minister Minoru Kihara, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and South Korean Defence Minister Shin Won-sik attend a trilateral meeting on sidelines of the Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore

SEOUL/TOKYO (Reuters) - The United States, Japan and South Korea agreed to hold new trilateral joint exercises this summer, a joint statement issued by U.S Department of Defense said on Sunday, after a meeting of the three allies' defense ministers.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Japan's Defense Minister Minoru Kihara and South Korea's Defense Minister Shin Won-sik met on Sunday in Singapore on the sidelines of the annual Shangri-La Dialogue security summit there.

The three "committed to continue to strengthen trilateral cooperation to ensure peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula, the Indo-Pacific, and beyond," according to the statement.

The three also agreed to establish a Trilateral Security Cooperation Framework this year in an effort to institutionalize their three-way defense cooperation.

The top defense officials of the three countries criticized North Korea's recent launches of ballistic missiles and a military spy satellite using ballistic missile technology as a violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.

(Reporting by Hyunsu Yim in Seoul and Kaori Kaneko in Tokyo; Editing by Peter Graff)