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Kang, Pompeo reaffirm efforts to ensure peace on Korean Peninsula

In the photo provided by South Korea's foreign ministry, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha (L) and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shake hands during a meeting in Washington on Monday. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
In the photo provided by South Korea's foreign ministry, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha (L) and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shake hands during a meeting in Washington on Monday. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
WASHINGTON -- South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring peace on the Korean Peninsula, both sides said, as they held talks two days after Joe Biden was elected the next US president.

"During the meeting, Secretary Pompeo and Foreign Minister Kang discussed bilateral and regional priorities, including coordination on ensuring peace on the Korean Peninsula and expanding cooperation through the US Indo-Pacific Strategy and the ROK New Southern Policy," Cale Brown, principal deputy spokesperson of the US State Department, said in a press release.

"The Secretary and the Foreign Minister reinforced our joint commitment to defending the rules based international order, as well as ensuring the Alliance is prepared to face the emerging challenges of the 21st Century," the press release added.

Kang arrived here Sunday on a four-day visit that is also expected to include meetings with foreign policy advisers of Biden.

South Korea's foreign ministry said Kang and Pompeo also agreed on the need to continue their efforts to move forward the Korean Peninsula peace efforts.

"The two ministers agreed on the need to continue their efforts to develop the South Korea-US relations based on their strong alliance and to move forward the Korean Peninsula peace process, also agreeing to continue dialogue and consultations between the foreign ministries of the two countries at various levels," it said in a press release.

The two also evaluated the continuation of personnel exchange between the two countries despite the COVID-19 pandemic, noting their borders continue to remain open to each other with no major restrictions, according to the South Korean foreign ministry.

Kang and Pompeo also exchanged their views on the ongoing election for the new head of the World Trade Organization, in which South Korea's Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee has made the shortlist of two finalists, but she is said to be behind her Nigerian rival, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

The US has publicly expressed its support for the South Korean candidate.

Seoul said Kang and Pompeo agreed to continue their discussions on the issue in the future.

During the trip, Kang is also likely to meet officials from US Congress and academia, including those close with Biden, according to diplomatic sources.

Talks had been under way to arrange meetings with Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, and Michele Flournoy, former undersecretary of defense for policy under the administration of Barack Obama, and the meetings, if realized, will likely take place on Wednesday (US time), a source said.

Coons is known as a longtime friend and ally of Biden and is considered a top contender to be named US secretary of state.

Flournoy is talked about as a strong candidate for defense secretary.

Meanwhile, Lee Do-hoon, Seoul's top nuclear envoy who accompanied Kang on the trip, held talks on Monday with US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun, who doubles as the US point man for North Korea.

They discussed efforts to manage the situation on the Korean Peninsula against possible North Korean provocation in the wake of the US election, according to the sources.

Kang and Lee will return home Wednesday. (Yonhap)
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