Park to meet with U.S. vice president

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Park to meet with U.S. vice president

U.S. Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. arrived in Seoul late yesterday and is set to meet with President Park Geun-hye in Seoul today.

His meeting with the president follows talks with the Japanese and Chinese leaders, in which Beijing’s unilaterally declared air defense identification zone (ADIZ) largely overshadowed other regional and bilateral issues.

“Vice President Biden’s visit is an opportunity for both countries to discuss important bilateral issues and interests, the North Korea issue and international problems,” Cho Tai-young, spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said at a briefing yesterday. “Adequate explanation in regards to the air defense identification zone” will follow Biden’s talks with President Park.

After a luncheon with Park, Biden is slated to give a speech at Yonsei University and meet with Prime Minister Chung Hong-won.

Seoul has been postponing an announcement of its plan to expand Korea’s air defense identification zone (KADIZ) as a means to include disputed Korean territories in the East China Sea region such as Ieodo, Hong Island and Mara Island.

The announcement appears to be scheduled to follow Biden’s visit. The plan to expand the KADIZ will be finalized by the national security policy committee immediately after Biden’s meeting with Park, according to a high-level government official. However, an immediate announcement is unlikely.

“The decision of the ADIZ will be our decision and implemented by us,” Cho emphasized.

Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said to the National Assembly defense committee yesterday that the plan to finalize the KADIZ will be decided through a Blue House-led national security policy revision committee. “We intend to finalize a plan to expand Korea’s ADIZ within this week,” he said.

Biden met with Chinese President Xi Jinping for over five hours on Wednesday and emphasized that Washington “doesn’t recognize” China’s newly declared East China air defense identification zone, according to a U.S. official.

Beijing unilaterally announced the new zone on Nov. 23, sparking backlash from Seoul and Tokyo, and prompting Korea to consider expanding its own ADIZ.

China’s ADIZ overlaps with areas also claimed by Japan and Korea.

Biden conveyed such “deep concern” to Xi following talks with Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on Tuesday; they agreed to show a unified front on the issue. There, he called for cooperation among the United States, Japan and Korea.

China’s newly proclaimed ADIZ overlaps Korea’s and Japan’s at points where the countries have disputes over claims, such as Ieodo - underwater reefs that belong in waters both Seoul and Beijing claim.

Effectively controlled by Korea, Ieodo, known internationally as Socotra Rock, is located 149 kilometers (92 miles) southwest of Korea’s southernmost Mara Island in the East China Sea, and 287 kilometers from China’s eastern Yushan Island in Zhejiang Province.

Biden is also scheduled tomorrow to visit the Korean War Memorial and the demilitarized zone. The U.S. vice president’s visit honors 60 years of ties between the United States and Korea, the Korean Foreign Ministry said.


BY SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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