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Yoon seeks to strengthen alliance with US, joint efforts to denuclearize N. Korea: delegation chief

By Yonhap

Published : April 4, 2022 - 09:15

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Rep. Park Jin (L), head of President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol's delegation to the United States, speaks to reporters after arriving in Washington on Sunday. (Yonhap) Rep. Park Jin (L), head of President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol's delegation to the United States, speaks to reporters after arriving in Washington on Sunday. (Yonhap)

President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol and his administration will work with the United States to strengthen the countries' alliance and their joint efforts to tackle various issues, including North Korea, the head of Yoon's delegation to the US said Sunday.

Rep. Park Jin of Yoon's People Power Party also said the purpose of the delegation's visit was to closely coordinate their policies before the president-elect takes office on May 10.

"There are seven of us here with expertise (in various area) that will enable substantive policy coordination with the US," Park told reporters after arriving in Washington.

"We will hold discussions with people from the US administration, Congress and think tanks to lay the groundwork for the normalization of the South Korea-US alliance and to place the bilateral relationship on a strong foundation," he added.

Park also highlighted the importance of US-South Korea cooperation in dealing with North Korea as his visit follows a series of North Korean missile launches that included the firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the first of its kind since November 2017.

"The security situation on the Korean Peninsula is in a serious condition and there are many issues the countries must work together to address such as peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and other regional and global issues," said Park.

The chief delegate said the incoming administration's policy toward North Korea will be based on "principles," despite widely-held views that a conservative Yoon administration will likely take a more hard-line stance toward Pyongyang.

"We also have in mind incentives such as assistance and economic cooperation for North Korea in case the North takes concrete steps to denuclearize," he said.

Park said his meetings here will also include discussions on actual steps the North would have to take to enable such incentives, adding the US and the incoming Yoon administration both believe that denuclearization is the only path available to North Korea.

Still, he dismissed the possibility of Yoon holding an inter-Korean summit just to restart dialogue with the North.

"It is not an issue that can all of a sudden be resolved just by leaders deciding to do so," said Park. "We believe the natural process to address the North Korean nuclear issue is to create a realistic and verifiable roadmap (to denuclearization) and then hold a leaders' summit based on that."

Pyongyang has avoided denuclearization talks since late 2019. It also remains unresponsive to numerous overtures from both Seoul and Washington. (Yonhap)