Presidential office says Yoon-Pelosi meeting was not held due to time conflict
By Kang Seung-woo
President Yoon Seok-yeol spoke Thursday by phone with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, alleviating fears he was mocking the third-ranked woman in the U.S. administration by not saying she met in person.
Pelosi arrived in Seoul Wednesday night after a controversial stop in Taiwan as part of her Asia tour.
Yoon and Pelosi spent 40 minutes on the phone discussing upcoming issues such as the North Korean nuclear issue and the Seoul-Washington alliance, according to Deputy National Security Advisor Kim Tae-hyo.
Regarding Pelosi’s visit to the heavily fortified Joint Security Area near the North-South border, Yoon was quoted as saying, “Your visit will be a sign of deterrence between South Korea and the United States against North Korea.” rice field. According to Kim, allies must work together to build a free and open Indo-Pacific order.
He was also accompanied on the call by five members of Congress and US Ambassador to South Korea Philip Goldberg.
Yoon is on a five-day summer vacation until Friday, but the president is not scheduled to meet Pelosi on Wednesday, according to the Blue House. Cheong Wa Dae added that the US side fully understands Minister Yoon’s situation.
However, the president’s office changed its stance and announced a conference call. The announcement sparked speculation that the South Korean government was facing a dilemma amid the US-China conflict, as none of the senior Yoon administration officials had planned to meet with Pelosi.
An ally, China is South Korea’s largest trading partner. Suspicions were further fueled by the fact that no one from the South Korean government was present at Osan Air Force Base to welcome Pelosi. A protocol for her visit was agreed between Pelosi’s side and the National Assembly, according to Yoon’s office. I was dissatisfied with how I was treated.
The Blue House dismissed speculation that Yoon had skipped the meeting with Pelosi due to concerns about the impact on South Korea-China relations.
Choi Yong-bum, senior presidential secretary for public affairs, said Yoon and Pelosi were unable to meet in person due to conflicting schedules.
He told reporters that the president’s office had previously notified the United States that it would be difficult for the president to find time to meet with the Speaker of the House because Pelosi’s visit overlapped with Yoon’s summer vacation.
“Decisions are made on the basis of the national interest,” he said when asked why Yoon did not meet Pelosi in person.
In response to the lack of meetings between Yoon and Pelosi, some lawmakers from the ruling People’s Power Party (PPP) said that Yoon had time to dine with theater actors while on vacation. On occasion, he criticized Yoon for not meeting visiting U.S. officials.
“U.S. Congress plays an important role in the ROK-U.S. alliance, and Pelosi is its leader. Former lawmaker and four-term presidential candidate Yoo Sung-min said on Facebook Thursday, adding that past presidents have traditionally met. Along with representatives of the United States Congress and other secretaries of defense and state when he visits South Korea.
People’s Party Rep. Ha Tae-geun also recommended that Yoon meet with Pelosi in consideration of national interests, but the meeting with Pelosi immediately after the visit to Taiwan, which was strongly opposed by China, may be awkward.
“Their common interests are the North Korean nuclear issue and the South Korea-US alliance, not Taiwan-related issues,” Ha said on Facebook.
Perosis’ visit also comes at a time when South Korea is in a dilemma amid heightened strategic competition between Washington and Beijing.
Now the US is asking South Korea to honor its invitation to join her four global chip powers’ proposed strategic alliance, which includes Japan and Taiwan, by the end of August. It appears to be aimed at countering China’s growing influence in global supply chains.
Meanwhile, the Chinese government has used Seoul’s status as its largest trading partner to pressure South Korea and persuade it to turn its back on Beijing.
The decision to hold a conference call was well received by diplomatic observers.
“Given China’s strong reaction to President Pelosi’s visit to Taipei, the Taiwan issue could extend to the Korean peninsula, however limited the impact. In that regard, skipping a meeting with her may be a strategic option for Yoon,” said Cho Han-beom, senior researcher at the Institute for Korean Unification.
Credit/Source : KOREATIMES