U.S. stepping up efforts to boost tripartite ties with S. Korea, Japan: envoy

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Mar 15, 2012 - 14:29
  • Updated : Mar 15, 2012 - 14:29
South Korea‘s new top envoy in the United States said Wednesday he will concentrate efforts on “fine-tuning” the alliance between the two sides and helping Washington’s efforts to boost trilateral cooperation with Seoul and Tokyo.

Amb. Choi Young-jin said Seoul-Washington relations can‘t be “always smooth,” no more than relationships among friends and between husband and wife.

“It is important to prevent unnecessary conflicts by predicting possible problems and managing them in advance,” he said in a meeting with South Korean correspondents here.

He was responding to a barrage of questions on his remarks in Seoul on the need to “readjust” the alliance, which is said to be at the best-ever level.

Choi stressed he did not mean there are any existing problems in the alliance but just wanted to emphasize the importance of thorough maintenance work.

He said among his other priorities as ambassador to the U.S. are to deal painstakingly with the implementation of a bilateral free trade agreement and the North Korean nuclear issue.

Choi also said South Korea needs to capitalize on the U.S. move to bolster three-way cooperation involving Japan.

He pointed out Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s interest in the issue of Korean women forced to serve as sex slaves for Japanese imperialist troops in the early 1900s.

In talks with the South’s Foreign Minister Kim Sung-whan in Washington last week, Clinton expressed her firm view that those Koreans, called “comfort women,” were victims of “forced prostitution,” according to South Korean officials.

“It represents that the U.S. makes much of trilateral relations with South Korea and Japan. It means a new and good phase has been created for us,” said Choi, a former vice foreign minister and ambassador to the United Nations.

He also worked as special representative for United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to Cote d’Ivoire from 2007 before taking up his current post earlier this month. He replaced Han Duck-soo, who was appointed head of the Korea International Trade Association. (Yonhap News)