SEOUL, May 19 (Xinhua) -- Defense chiefs of South Korea, the United States and Japan will meet later this month to talk about the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s nuclear and missile programs.
Kim Min-seok, spokesman of Seoul's Defense Ministry, told a routine press briefing on Monday that South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin will visit Singapore for three days to June 1 to participate in the 13th Asia security dialogue, called the Shangri-La Dialogue.
On the sidelines of the dialogue, Seoul's defense minister will hold bilateral talks with the U.S. counterpart Chuck Hagel and the trilateral defense minister talks, including Japanese defense chief Itsunori Onodera on May 31.
The spokesman said issues to be discussed during the bilateral and the trilateral dialogues had yet to be decided, but he said three allies have held such dialogues every year since 2009 to talk about cooperation to deter the DPRK's provocations.
Tensions are running high on the Korean Peninsula after the DPRK warned of a new form of nuclear test and fired scores of short-range missiles.
The South Korean military repeatedly said that increased activity in the DPRK's main nuclear test site was detected, and the South Korean defense chief said earlier this month that the DPRK has prepared for the fourth nuclear test and the preparations have been in the final stages.
The DPRK has recently conducted engine tests for an intercontinental ballistic missile known as KN-08, which was flaunted by the North during the past military parades, according to local media reports.
Some local media reported that on the agenda for the trilateral talks will be military intelligence sharing between the three countries and joint management of missile defense systems, but the spokesman flatly denied the latter, not the former.
The spokesman said that managing missile defense systems will be inevitably different between South Korea and the United States from both geographical and structural perspectives, noting Seoul' s missile defense management will not belong to the U.S. system.
He said interoperability of missile defense systems between Seoul and Washington will be advanced, adding it will help South Korea detect ballistic missiles launched from the DPRK.
The spokesman, however, did not deny the report on the trilateral intelligence sharing, opening the possibility for the three defense chiefs to talk about the issue.
Seoul and Tokyo pushed for the bilateral pact to share military intelligence on the DPRK in June 2012, but South Korea put the pact on hold at the last minute amid public uproar at home.
At that time, the Lee Myung-bak administration pushed the pact through without enough public debate for fear of possible opposition from the public.
Amid frayed ties between Seoul and Tokyo, South Korea set its basic policy at turning to the trilateral intelligence sharing. The military intelligence pact was reached between Seoul and Washington and between Tokyo and Washington, but not between Seoul and Tokyo.
The military has mentioned the need for sharing military intelligence between the three nations to brace for threats from the DPRK's weapons of mass destruction.