South Korea agreed to continue consultations with the US over cooperative measures for Washington’s effort to safeguard freedom of navigation in the strategically vital Strait of Hormuz off Iran, Cheong Wa Dae said Wednesday.
South Korea’s national security adviser Chung Eui-yong, who met with US national security adviser John Bolton in Seoul, agreed on “the need for international efforts for the safe voyage of private merchant ships,” according to Ko Min-jung, presidential spokesperson.
On his second day in Seoul, Bolton had a packed schedule with a series of meetings with Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-hwa and Na Kyung-won, floor leader of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party.
Bolton’s visit comes as South Korea is facing diplomatic challenges, from a deepening row with Japan to the incident of Russian and Chinese military jets’ intrusion into Korea Air Defense Identification Zone and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Kang and Bolton reaffirmed the importance of the bilateral relations as well as trilateral cooperation with Japan for peace and stability in the region and vowed close consultation, including a role that the US can play, to prevent worsening of Seoul-Tokyo relations and find diplomatic solutions through dialogue.
Regarding the incident related to Chinese and Russian military aircrafts that entered the South Korean airspace on Tuesday, Chung and Bolton pledged to cooperate closely in the event of a recurrence.
As for the issue of defense-cost sharing, the allies decided to seek consultations, based on the spirit of the Seoul-Washington alliance, in the most “reasonable and fair” way, according to Ko.
Foreign Minister Kang emphasized that South Korea will maintain full support in engagement with North Korea and on nuclear issues. Washington and Pyongyang are expected to resume lower-level denuclearization talks soon, after US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed to do so during their meeting at the Demilitarized Zone last month.
“I think based upon the spirit of the alliance we are very confident that we will overcome all of these challenges and I think that in a sense the alliance is stronger as we face these challenges on a daily basis, over time,” Kang told Bolton during their meeting at the Foreign Ministry office in Seoul.
“I think that the main objective we have and the main objective that you have is to emerge with a stronger ROK-US alliance that really has kept the peace in this part of the world for a long time,” Bolton said.
Before the meeting with Kang, Bolton met with Defense Minister Jeong and stressed the importance of the security alliance of South Korea and Japan.
During the closed-door meeting that lasted for about an hour, the two agreed to closely cooperate to achieve their shared goal of complete denuclearization and establishing permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula, according to the Defense Ministry.
“The two sides shared their views that the strong South Korea-US alliance has contributed to the dynamic changes to the security situation of the Korean Peninsula,” the ministry said in a press release.
Jeong and Bolton also agreed on the need for South Korea and Japan to maintain security cooperation, and vowed to work closely together for the development of security cooperation between both nations and the US.
“(We had a) very productive discussions across a wide range of issues, and I look forward to working on these issues,” Bolton told reporters as he left the Defense Ministry.
By Park Han-na and Jo He-rim