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Senior US diplomat due in Seoul for talks on economic ties, supply chain

A senior US diplomat in charge of economic and trade policy is scheduled to visit Seoul this week to discuss cooperation on supply chain, technology, healthcare and other sectors, Seoul's foreign ministry said Tuesday.

Jose W. Fernandez, US undersecretary of state for economic growth, energy and the environment, plans to arrive here on Wednesday for a three-day visit after travelling to Tokyo. It is his first regional trip since taking office in August.

During his stay in South Korea, Fernandez plans to meet senior officials from foreign and finance ministries, as well as business leaders from major companies, according to informed sources.

On Friday, Fernandez will hold a meeting with Seoul's Second Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-moon and lead the sixth annual Senior Economic Dialogue (SED) on bilateral economic issues, the ministry said.

"The two vice ministers will discuss cooperation on the bilateral supply chains, science and technology, vaccine, climate change and infrastructure," ministry spokesperson Choi Young-sam said.

The two sides are expected to touch on ways to bolster ties in key industries, including semiconductors and batteries, and other technology sectors.

Follow-up measures on boosting vaccine partnership are likely to be another major agenda item, as the allies' leaders agreed to work together to expand manufacturing capacity for COVID-19 vaccines during their Washington summit in May.

The US Department of State has said that Fernandez will discuss ways to cooperate with South Korea and Japan to deliver a "positive economic agenda for the Indo-Pacific," raising speculation that he would try to draw support from Washington's key Asian allies for an envisioned initiative called Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. (Yonhap)

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