Foreign Ministry kicks off strategy meeting

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Foreign Ministry kicks off strategy meeting

Korea’s Foreign Ministry on Friday launched a government-civilian diplomatic strategy meeting to tackle a range of tricky policy challenges stemming from heightened Sino-U.S. tensions and historical feuds with Japan.

The launch of the Strategic Coordination Meeting on Foreign Affairs came as Seoul warns of stern measures in response to Tokyo’s recent retaliatory export control move against Korea in an apparent response to last year’s Korean Supreme Court rulings over wartime forced labor.

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha presided over its inaugural session that involved officials from relevant ministries, the Blue House, the National Intelligence Service and those from academia and local think tanks.

Kang called for “active” efforts to expand Korea’s diplomatic role in promoting constructive regional cooperation while noting that the geopolitical situation in the region and beyond is unfolding in a “very complex, uncertain” direction.

“Especially vis-a-vis the U.S.-China relations, we will closely watch how things concerning the crucial elements that would affect the overall current international situation and economic order will proceed,” the minister said.

“Rather than passively responding to the given situation, there need to be active efforts to expand our diplomatic role and contribution as a middle-power state while expanding the space for constructive cooperation based on our national interests,” she added.

She added that the meeting will also touch on the frayed ties with Japan, in an indication that it will explore ways to respond to Tokyo’s recent move to toughen restrictions on exports of several high-tech materials to Korea in an apparent response to Seoul’s top court rulings that ordered Japanese firms to compensate victims of colonial-era forced labor.

To deal with a series of delicate geopolitical issues, the Foreign Ministry recently set up the seven-member Task Force for Strategic Coordination, which will serve as a secretariat for the newly launched government-civilian meeting.

Under the new dialogue apparatus, the ministry plans to install the Working Group on Foreign Affairs and Security and the Working Group on Economy, Science and Technology to cover the whole range of issues arising from regional geopolitics.

The increasingly acrimonious rivalry between the United States and China comes as Seoul seeks to enhance both the security alliance with Washington and the strategic partnership with Beijing. It has stoked concerns that Seoul could be compelled to make tricky choices between the two sides.

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