Yoon tells Zelensky they should meet after war ends
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on the phone Tuesday and proposed a meeting soon after the war with Russia ends.
When asked about the phone call in a press briefing Wednesday, Yoon's spokesperson Kim Eun-hye said, "President-elect Yoon expressed his wish for the two to meet as soon as possible after the end of the war and discuss practical cooperation."
Yoon's team initially didn't plan on disclosing any details of the phone call with Zelensky, said Kim, taking into consideration that Ukraine is "currently in a state of war."
But in a tweet Tuesday, Zelensky described his phone conversation with Yoon.
"Thanked the people of the Republic of Korea for their support of Ukraine," Zelensky wrote. "Wished the President-elect success in his future responsible activities and expressed conviction in further fruitful cooperation!"
Referring to the tweet in the briefing, Kim said, "Fruitful cooperation has great implications in light of the current situation in Ukraine."
Kim said that the phone conversation "took place for quite some time, but as [Ukraine] is in a wartime situation, I apologize that we can't provide more specific details in consideration of the situation with the other country."
The phone call took place at around 5 p.m. Tuesday, Korea time. Yoon initiated the call.
Traditionally, Russia is one of the four major powers that newly elected Korean presidents communicate with first, along with the United States, China and Japan.
As presidential candidate for the People Power Party (PPP), Yoon met with Ukrainian Ambassador-designate to Seoul Dmytro Ponomarenko on March 2 and promised to do his best to send supplies and basic necessities to the Ukrainian people if he won the March 9 election.
He condemned Russia's invasion as "a clear violation of international law."
Yoon delivered a personal letter to Ponomarenko, who later shared a copy of it on his Twitter account.
In the letter, Yoon wrote that South Koreans "can fully sympathize" with Ukrainians as the "North Korean invasion has left an indelible mark," and went on to praise the leadership of Zelensky and the courage of the Ukrainian people.
"The strength and the resilience of the Ukrainian people serve as an inspiration to all humanity and will go down in history as a great example of what a united and determined people can achieve," Yoon continued. "I and all of us in Korea stand in solidarity with you and the people of Ukraine in your fight for national sovereignty, peace, and justice."
Since his election, Yoon has spoken with the leaders of the United States, Japan, Britain, Australia, India, Vietnam, China and the Netherlands. Yoon has yet to hold a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In his first phone call with U.S. President Joe Biden Yoon on March 10, Yoon thanked the United States for leadership after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Yoon plans to send a seven-member delegation to the United States in early April to discuss alliance and global issues including the Ukraine war. The delegation will be led by PPP Rep. Park Jin, a four-term lawmaker with parliamentary diplomacy experience. PPP Rep. Cho Tae-yong, a former vice foreign minister, will serve as deputy chief.
President Moon Jae-in held a telephone call with Zelensky in early March and said Korea stands in "solidarity with the people of Ukraine."
Korea has also joined U.S.-led financial and economic sanctions on Russia and provided humanitarian aid and emergency medical supplies to Ukraine.
BY SARAH KIM [email@example.com]