WASHINGTON, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday they're in agreement that North Korea's recent missile tests merit a strong response.
"We have had close consultations on a wide range of security issues, in particular our concerns about the provocative actions that have been taken in North Korea, and our determination to take strong actions in response," Obama said during a media availability after a closed-door meeting with Abe.
Speaking through an interpreter, Abe said, "[We] just cannot tolerate the actions of North Korea such as launching missiles and conducting nuclear attacks. So we agree that we would cooperate with each other in dealing resolutely with North Korea."
Abe said he and Obama discussed the importance for neither Japan nor the United States to reward North Korea for provocative acts such as launching missiles and conducting nuclear tests.
"[We] agreed that we would cooperate so that a resolution including sanctions would be adopted in the U.N.," Abe said "We also discussed additional sanctions; for example financial sanctions. And we agreed to continue cooperating in that regard as well."
Abe said he and Obama also discussed the importance of securing the cooperation of other countries, particularly those in the region, in dealing with the issue of North Korea.
Obama said they discussed efforts to resolve the nuclear issue in Iran and exchanged condolences for the loss of life in the terrorist attack on a BP facility in Algeria, pledging it "would spur greater counter-terrorism cooperation."
In opening remarks, Obama said the U.S.-Japan alliance "is the central foundation for our regional security and so much of what we do in the Pacific region."
Obama said he and Abe would discuss what steps the two countries could take to encourage trade, expanded commerce and vigorous growth "that will lead to greater opportunity for both the United States and Japan" once the two leaders return to their meetings.
"I know that Prime Minister Abe and I have both agreed that our No. 1 priority has to be making sure that we are increasing growth and making sure that people have the opportunity to prosper if they're willing to work hard in both our countries," Obama said.