By Song Sang-ho
SEOUL, May 13 (Yonhap) -- The top diplomats of South Korea and the United States expressed concerns over recent COVID-19 outbreaks in North Korea and agreed to continue consultations on humanitarian aid to the reclusive country during video talks Friday, Seoul's foreign ministry said.
In their first talks since Foreign Minister Park Jin took office the previous day, Park and Secretary of State Antony Blinken also condemned the North's recent missile launches and agreed to strengthen bilateral coordination to "sternly" deal with North Korean threats, according to the ministry.
"The South and the U.S. agreed to continue consultations, together with the international community, over ways of providing humanitarian aid to the North," the ministry said in a press release.
Despite their condemnation of the North's missile launches, the two sides highlighted their countries' openness to dialogue with the North and agreed to make efforts for the resumption of "principled and consistent" denuclearization negotiations with the North, according to the ministry.
Earlier in the day, the North's official Korean Central News Agency reported that six people have died from COVID-19 and symptoms of fever were newly reported among more than 18,000 people nationwide Thursday.
Despite speculation that the North might slow down its weapons tests to focus on antivirus efforts, the regime launched three short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea on Thursday evening, its 16th show of force this year.