South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong stressed the partnership with Washington, but remained apart on key sticking points with Tokyo, in a brief meeting with his US and Japanese counterparts on the sidelines of the Group of Seven session in the UK.
Chung joined the in-person gathering of G-7 foreign and development ministers meeting in Liverpool, England, over the weekend, the Foreign Ministry said Monday. South Korea was invited as a guest -- along with Australia, India, South Africa and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations -- to this year’s session of the Group of Seven wealthy democracies.
On the margins of the session, Chung met with top envoys from the US and Japan, and also held a separate session with his counterparts from Britain, Germany, Canada, the Philippines and Australia, according to his office.
Chung held informal talks with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken throughout the two-day session. The two exchanged opinions on issues of mutual interest, including on the Korean Peninsula, Northeast Asia and the Middle East, and discussed ways to expand bilateral cooperation, according to the ministry.
Sources say the two discussed wide-ranging issues, including Seoul‘s proposal to declare a formal end to the Korean War as well as the situation in Northeast Asia.
On Saturday, Chung had a short conversation with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi at the reception dinner, marking the first time the two envoys met since Hayashi’s inauguration last month.
In their encounter, Chung conveyed the Seoul government’s stance on the issues of South Korean victims of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery and forced labor, and called to resolve the issues through dialogue, as there are many other areas where two sides can cooperate, according to the ministry.
In return, Hayashi reiterated Tokyo’s positions on the matter, and urged “appropriate response” from Seoul over wartime issues, according to Japan’s Foreign Ministry.
During their meeting, the two sides weren’t able to narrow gaps over a host of wartime history issues that have been at the center of their bilateral feud, but they confirmed the importance of cooperation along with their mutual ally – the US – for peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Chung also held a separate session with British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and agreed to closely cooperate on infrastructure projects in developing countries, as well as in areas of digital technologies development.
In his meeting with Germany’s new Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, the two sides vowed to continue cooperation across various areas, including climate change, COVID-19 response and post-pandemic economic recovery.
Chung also sat down with Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly and discussed cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region and COVID-19 response.
At the G-7 meeting, Chung called on the participating countries to restore the global supply chain and expand investments in infrastructure projects for peace in the Indo-Pacific region.
Dealing with North Korea’s nuclear program was also on the agenda of the meeting.
The top diplomats of the G-7 countries urged Pyongyang to refrain from provocations and to return to diplomacy, echoing a similar statement it issued in May after the G-7 meeting.
“We renewed our call on the Democratic People‘s Republic of Korea to refrain from provocative actions and to engage in a diplomatic process with the explicit goal of complete, verifiable and irreversible abandonment of all of the DPRK’s unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions,” Truss said in the chair’s statement, abbreviating the North’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
By Ahn Sung-mi (email@example.com