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Top US diplomat for East Asia policy discusses denuclearization, trade with Seoul officials

South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin (right) speaks with Daniel Kritenbrink, the US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, at his Seoul office on Friday. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin (right) speaks with Daniel Kritenbrink, the US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, at his Seoul office on Friday. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

The top US diplomat for East Asia policy and South Korean officials, including Seoul’s chief nuclear envoy, reaffirmed the allies’ commitment to the denuclearization of North Korea in meetings held in Seoul.

The two sides also discussed a wide range of topics, including trade issues, during the US diplomat’s three-day trip.

Daniel Kritenbrink, the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs of the US Department of State, reaffirmed the commitment on denuclearization in a breakfast meeting with Kim Gunn, special representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs of South Korea’s Foreign Ministry, Saturday. The US official arrived in Seoul on Thursday for a three-day trip.

On Friday, the US official met his South Korean counterpart, Yeo Seung-bae, and then paid courtesy calls on Foreign Minister Park Jin and Second Vice Foreign Minister Lee Do-hoon.

In the meeting with Kim Gunn, the two sides exchanged views on their close cooperation at all levels and agreed on the need to continue their joint efforts to make progress in the denuclearization of North Korea, the Foreign Ministry said.

Kritenbrink also reaffirmed Washington’s strong support for President Yoon Suk-yeol’s “audacious plan” initiative to support improvement of North Korea’s economy in return for its actions for denuclearization.

The officials also agreed to maintain a firm readiness posture and take stern measures against any additional provocations from the North.

Seoul and Washington have jointly conducted the Ulchi Freemdom Shield this week, the largest annual military drills, at full scale for the first time in four years.

They also stressed that as Pyongyang continues to advance with its nuclear ambitions, ignoring warnings from international society, it would only be undermining its own security, as it strengthens deterrence from Seoul and Washington.

At the same time, the two sides noted that the door for dialogue is “always open” for the North.

In the meeting with the US diplomat, Seoul officials delivered Korean businesses’ concerns about the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act, which provides tax benefits only to electric vehicles built in North America.

The foreign minister also relayed his concerns that the law discriminates against Korean companies and possibly violates the terms of their bilateral free trade agreement and World Trade Organization’s “most favored nation” principle, according to the ministry.

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