Posted January. 11, 2005 22:01,
It has been over three weeks since South Korea has requested agrément for its Ambassador-designate to the United States, Hong Suk-hyun. Now, the delay is drawing increasing attention.
The request was submitted to the U.S. embassy on December 17, 2004 and the National Security Council at the White House is known to have received it late last year via the State Department.
Some have pointed out the delay of the agrément, but a concerned person with the U.S. embassy in South Korea dismissed that, saying that agrément usually takes a month so there is no need to consider the delay odd. The person also explained that the year-end holiday must have delayed procedures.
The former ambassador to the United States, Han Seung-joo, who took the office on April 2003, received his agrément in nine days.
It was when the U.S.-South Korea summit meeting was scheduled, and besides, Han was already a well-known figure within the U.S. administration, which I suppose helped speed the agrément procedure, said a concerned person with the embassy.
Upon agrément, ambassador-designate to the United States Hong Suk-hyun will start his tenure in Washington D.C. right after attending the meeting of foreign mission chiefs, which will be held on February 16-18 in Seoul.
As the agrément has been delayed, it is likely that the outgoing ambassador, Han, not the incoming ambassador-designate, Hong, might attend the inauguration ceremony of President George W. Bush on January 20, which is an unusual situation. Ambassador Han was already invited.
The embassy contact explained that even if the agrément procedure is completed now, there is still the credential procedure to be completed, which means it will be difficult to expect the ambassador-designate to attend the inauguration ceremony.
Ambassador Han will depart Washington D.C. on February 10 to attend scheduled ceremonies in the U.S., and is scheduled to arrive in South Korea on February 15. However, since the meeting of foreign mission chiefs was postponed, his return date is likely to be rescheduled accordingly.