Normalization of Korea-U.S. alliance will be key topic in meetings
Normalization of the Korea-U.S. alliance will be a key message in the upcoming meetings in Washington, according to People Power Party (PPP) Rep. Park Jin, head of President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol's special delegation to the United States.
“The delegation will deliver President-elect Yoon's will to normalize the Korea-U.S. alliance to the U.S. administration, Congress and members of the government and the private sector,” Park told the press at Incheon International Airport on Sunday morning.
Park and members of the delegation, including PPP Rep. Cho Tae-yong, formerly the vice foreign minister, and Chung Jae-ho, professor of international politics at Seoul National University, were scheduled to meet with members of the Joe Biden administration, Congress and think tanks in Washington during their week-long visit.
When asked if the delegation would be meeting with President Biden during a press conference on Friday, Yoon’s spokeswoman Kim Eun-hye did not comment but added they will be meeting with “responsible key personnel” in Washington.
“We feel a great sense of responsibility in departing for the U.S. at such a time as this when the Korean Peninsula is facing tense geopolitical situations, with North Korea's intercontinental ballistic missile launch, the U.S.-China rivalry and changes in the global supply chain,” Park said.
Park, a four-term lawmaker who had passed the free trade agreements with the United States and the European Union, and the North Korea Human Rights Act while he was heading the foreign affairs committee of the National Assembly from 2008 to 2010, has been a vocal critic of the Moon Jae-in administration's "strategic ambiguity" in dealing with the U.S.-China rivalry, as well as its project to formally declare an end to the 1950-53 Korean War.
The Moon administration has been pushing to formally declare an end to the war which ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty, leaving the two Koreas still technically at war.
“Declaration of an end to the war without substantial denuclearization from the North will incapacitate the [Korea-U.S.] alliance and jeopardize the security of the Korean Peninsula,” Park was quoted to have said in a closed-door meeting with members of the Seoul-based Korea-U.S. Alliance Foundation last month.
“The ambiguous stance of 'strategic ambiguity' undermines the trust of the alliance,” Park was also quoted to have said in the meeting. “We have to look at China accurately and make a cool and pragmatic judgment. The next government will protect Korea’s national interests, identity, and the people’s right to live, and pursue dignified diplomacy that speaks for itself.”
The delegation was also expected to discuss the Korea-U.S. joint military exercises, which have been scaled down since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, and the Seoul-Washington-Tokyo trilateral cooperation, despite the ongoing diplomatic low between Korea and Japan over a number of issues stemming from the 1910-45 Japanese annexation of Korea.
Both Park and Cho of the delegation have been floated as a possible candidate for foreign minister in the incoming Yoon administration.
BY ESTHER CHUNG [email@example.com]