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Kang, Blinken reveal differences in perspective in their first phone call

Kang, Blinken reveal differences in perspective in their first phone call

Posted January. 28, 2021 07:26,   

Updated January. 28, 2021 07:26


South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken had their first telephone conversation on Wednesday after Inaugurated as 46th President of the United States. However, the outcome of the phone conversation announced the two sides revealed subtle differences in perspective. South Korea stressed the two officials agreed that North Korean nuclear issue is an urgent matter to be resolved while the U.S. put emphasis on pressuring China by highlighting the importance of ROK-U.S. alliance and trilateral cooperation among South Korea, the U.S. and Japan in its Indo-Pacific strategy, a strategic concept designed to check China in the region.

The South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday that Minister Kang and Secretary Blinken exchanged their opinions on ROK-U.S. relations and issues on the Korean Peninsula. In particular, the ministry stressed that the two officials “shared the view that the North Korean nuclear issue is a matter that needs to be dealt with urgently in the Biden administration, and agreed to continue close consultations between the two countries to resolve the issue.” The ministry added that both sides expressed their willingness to resume nuclear negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea as early as possible by speeding up talks on the issue with the Biden administration.

In a press release by the State Department, however, there was no mention of the urgency of the matter. It only stated that Secretary Blinken “underscored the continued need for the denuclearization of North Korea.” Before mentioning the North Korean nuclear issue, the State Department said the two sides affirmed that the ROK-U.S. alliance is the linchpin of peace, security, and prosperity for a free and open Indo-Pacific region and across the world and stressed the importance of continued trilateral ROK-U.S.-Japan cooperation. The part about Indo-Pacific and trilateral ROK-U.S.-Japan cooperation was omitted in a press release by the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Ji-Sun Choi aurinko@donga.com