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Moon-Biden summit is critical to alliance, says Seoul’s envoy to US

South Korean ambassador to the US, Lee Soo-hyuck (Yonhap)
South Korean ambassador to the US, Lee Soo-hyuck (Yonhap)

A summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and US President-elect Joe Biden is critical to bolster the alliance and achieve peace on the Korean Peninsula, South Korea’s ambassador to the US said Tuesday (US time).
 
“The most important task facing us is to hold a US-South Korea summit at an early date after the new US administration takes office to further strengthen the alliance and achieve progress on the Korean peace process,” Ambassador Lee Soo-hyuck said during a video-linked press conference in Washington.
 
He said it is highly likely that the Biden administration will return to a more traditional approach to diplomacy, adding that the president-elect has picked foreign policy and security officials with a deeper understanding of issues regarding the Korean Peninsula who are known for putting greater emphasis on the alliance.
 
But Lee said it is difficult to get in touch directly with the Biden transition team, as the new team is taking a cautious approach about contact with foreign governments.
 
The envoy’s remarks came a day after the US Electoral College confirmed Biden’s victory, officially affirming his November win over incumbent President Donald Trump. Biden will be sworn into office Jan. 20.
 
In the mid- to long-term, the envoy said his embassy will come up with ways to deal with the new US leadership after thoroughly analyzing the US policy direction on China and moves to restore liberal multilateralism.
 
Reflecting on this year, Lee expressed disappointment that efforts to resume talks with North Korea have not borne fruit.
 
“North Korea’s domestic situation and strategic consideration may have come into play, but I think the COVID-19 situation has made a big impact,” he said on the stalled denuclearization talks.
 
“Still, we didn’t spend a meaningless year. Most of all, (South) Korea and the US maintained close cooperation on Korean Peninsula issues, and as a result we were able to maintain peace without any major escalation of tension,” he said.
 
By Ahn Sung-mi (sahn@heraldcorp.com)
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