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US agrees to upgrade strategic alliance with Korea: Yoon’s delegation

Yoon’s delegation says they formed consensus on need of complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of Pyongyang with US

By Jo He-rim

Published : April 5, 2022 - 15:16

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Rep. Park Jin (left), head of President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol‘s policy consultation delegation to the US, and US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman at the US Department of State pose after their meeting in Washington on Monday (US time). (Yonhap) Rep. Park Jin (left), head of President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol‘s policy consultation delegation to the US, and US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman at the US Department of State pose after their meeting in Washington on Monday (US time). (Yonhap)

Washington agreed to raise the level of strategic alliance with South Korea and agreed on the need for complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization (CVID) of North Korea, the chief of President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s policy consultation delegation said during his trip to the United States on Monday (US time).

Rep. Park Jin of the People Power Party, who is leading Yoon’s delegation, said he had also discussed the importance of the Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group and reviving it between the two countries in a meeting with US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman in Washington. Reactivating the EDSCG with the US was one of Yoon’s election pledges.

“In this critical time of government transition and with North Korea’s continuing provocations, we agreed on the importance of maintaining impenetrable cooperation,” Park said after meeting with Sherman.

“We were able to explain President-elect Yoon’s policy stance on North Korea -- to pursue CVID for sustainable peace and security of the Korean Peninsula -- and the US side also agreed.”

The delegation chief also said he relayed Yoon’s intentions for South Korea to participate in the working group of Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, known as the Quad. The Quad is a US-led regional security forum that includes Australia, India and Japan.

“We also shared the view that it is very important to hold high-level strategic discussions (with each other) to reinforce a united defense posture and for nuclear deterrence,” Park added.

The EDSCG was first established by the US-Korea Foreign and Defense Ministers’ meeting in October 2016. It served as the channel for the two allies to discuss strategic and policy stances on extended deterrence against North Korea.

Also called the 2+2 working group, the group’s meeting has apparently stopped since early January 2018, when Seoul had worked to achieve rapprochement with Pyongyang under President Moon Jae-in’s lead.

The meeting between the Korean delegation and Sherman lasted for around two hours. Officials in charge of other sectors such as the economy, security and COVID-19 management from the US side were also present.

Over the issue of Pyongyang’s human rights, Park reiterated how seriously Yoon’s office takes the issue. Park said that Yoon’s government would be at the forefront when the United Nations adopts a resolution regarding the regime’s human rights situation.

On Tuesday (US time) Park was set to visit the White House and deliver Yoon’s personal letter to President Joe Biden. The delegation chief was also expected to coordinate plans for a summit between the two leaders.

The South Korean delegation of seven members took off for the US on Sunday for a five-night trip, aiming to discuss a wide range of topics including the bilateral alliance and coordinating policies before Yoon enters office on May 10.

Earlier in the day, the US State Department said the US looks forward to working with South Korea’s incoming government to tackle the nuclear threats and challenges posed by North Korea and address concerns about the isolated regime’s human rights situation.

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)