South Korean President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Donald Trump reaffirmed that the strong South Korea--U.S. alliance is the "linchpin" of peace and security in the Indo-Pacific, the U.S. Department of State said in a press release Tuesday. It was the first time that Washington defined its alliance with Seoul as a linchpin of its Indo-Pacific strategy.
The State Department cited deepening cooperation with South Korea for the U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy as a main accomplishment of Trump's latest visit to South Korea, in addition to his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the truce village of Panmunjom.
"President Trump and President Moon explored ways to deepen cooperation between the U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy and the (South Korean) New Southern Policy," the department said. "Meaningful cooperation – in development assistance, energy and digital network security, maritime law enforcement capacity building, and natural disaster resiliency – will address emerging challenges and make the U.S.-(South Korea) alliance more robust and adaptable." While the press release did not specify details, it suggests that the two allies discussed anti-Huawei measures and the free navigation principle in the South China Sea.
The Trump administration had referred to its alliance with South Korea as a linchpin of the Korean Peninsula and regional peace. Against this backdrop, the latest description has sparked speculation that the South Korean president showed a forward-looking attitude toward Seoul's cooperation in the U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy.
It seems that the South Korean government, which had been distancing itself with the Trump administration's Indo-Pacific strategy, shifted toward cooperation, as it needs U.S. cooperation over the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and Japan's trade retaliation against Seoul. "The United States and South Korea agreed to coordinate with Japan on trilateral security cooperation, including information sharing, high-level policy consultation, and combined exercises," the department said.
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