The Korea Herald


Park to meet US, Japan top diplomats virtually

By Choi Si-young

Published : Aug. 14, 2023 - 16:01

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Clockwise from top left: The US, Japanese and South Korean flags. (123rf) Clockwise from top left: The US, Japanese and South Korean flags. (123rf)

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said Monday that it was in talks with the US and Japan to hold a virtual meeting of foreign ministers ahead of their first three-way summit at the US presidential retreat Camp David in Maryland on Friday.

A day earlier, the US State Department said the three top diplomats would hold talks on Tuesday, Korean time, which was a misunderstanding according to a source with knowledge of the matter.

“The date had been floated as one possibility but it was never confirmed,” the source said. “The three countries are currently looking into options and it’s possible the meeting could not take place at all if they don’t find the time.”

The virtual meeting is expected to reaffirm steps to curb North Korea’s aggression and China’s influence. They are also priorities the Camp David summit will discuss as US President Joe Biden looks to rally American allies against an anti-US coalition later this week.

The trilateral summit comes at a time when South Korea seeks a tighter three-way coalition working on disarming the North.

According to the Wall Street Journal on Sunday, the coalition is expected to make official their annual joint military exercises meant to check on Pyongyang, especially its ballistic missile capability. Institutionalizing a permanent three-way consultation is another possibility, the report said.

A senior Yoon administration official in Seoul said the joint military drills are still being debated, stressing that holding them does not necessarily mean taking a step closer to being part of the US missile defense network. The South installed the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, a US-made missile shield, in April 2017.

Closer three-way ties are largely prompted by the Yoon administration’s decision in March to put behind historical disputes that had plunged Seoul-Tokyo relations to a record low for joint work on disarmament. The two countries’ leaders in May resumed regular visits to each other’s countries after a 12-year hiatus.

Some floated the possibility that the anti-North Korea coalition could discuss a trilateral security arrangement, something close to collective defense, but Yoon’s national security adviser has dismissed the possibility.