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Seoul says it’s ready for all eventualities in US election

Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Kang Min-seok. Yonhap
Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Kang Min-seok. Yonhap

The South Korean government on Thursday reiterated that it is prepared for all possible outcomes of the US presidential election.

“The government will continue to cooperate with the US to maintain and further advance the Korea-US alliance regardless of the US presidential election’s outcome,” Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Kang Min-seok said Thursday.

“The government will cooperate with the new (US) administration to achieve denuclearization and establishment of peace on the Korean Peninsula, and continue to communicate closely following the tradition of cooperation between Korea and the US.”

Kang also said that the National Security Council was set to hold a meeting on the issue and brief President Moon Jae-in later in the day.

Cheong Wa Dae declined to comment on whether different plans were drawn up to respond to different outcomes of the election, and Seoul’s outlook on the election’s impact on inter-Korean and US-North Korea relations.

The ruling Democratic Party took a largely similar position as the presidential office, but added that Seoul should take steps to ensure that developments in US-North Korea under the Trump administration are not rolled back should former Vice President Joe Biden win.

“Whichever candidate enters the White House, the Korea-US alliance must be strengthened, and securing a trade negotiation channel is central to (Korea’s) foreign policy,” Democratic Party floor leader Rep. Kim Tae-nyeon said.

“Regardless of which administration takes office in the US, the Korean Peninsula peace process must be reactivated.”

Kim went on to say that the National Assembly should work to lay foundations on which the US can reengage the North.

“Ratifying the Panmumjom Declaration and passing a resolution calling for declaring the end of the Korean War in the regular session of the National Assembly will be a big message to the US,” Kim said.

The Panmunjom Declaration is a joint inter-Korean declaration signed by Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at their first summit in 2018. Formally declaring the end of the 1950-53 Korean War is central to the Moon Jae-in administration’s North Korea policy, which Moon believes will be a stepping stone for the North reengaging Seoul and Washington.

Democratic Party lawmaker and head of the parliamentary committee on foreign policy Rep. Song Young-gil also stressed that denuclearization of North Korea should not be considered from the start should Biden take the office.

“(The US) should build up the achievements of the Trump administration in US-North Korea relations,” Song was quoted as saying by a local news agency.

Song, however, said that the US is unlikely to return to the Obama administration’s strategic patience even if Biden wins, citing the North’s acquiring of advanced intercontinental ballistic missile capabilities.

The main opposition People Power Party also stressed the need for the government to draw up responses to both outcomes.

“The government needs to establish a detailed national security strategy based on scenarios looking at the issue from multiple angles, and to make preparations for trade issues,” People Power Party’s interim leader Kim Chong-in said.

By Choi He-suk (