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US working with S. Korea to address cause of migration from Central America: Harris

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (2nd from R) and US Vice President Kamala Harris (2nd from L) are seen holding talks in Washington in this file photo taken May 21, 2021. (Yonhap)
South Korean President Moon Jae-in (2nd from R) and US Vice President Kamala Harris (2nd from L) are seen holding talks in Washington in this file photo taken May 21, 2021. (Yonhap)
WASHINGTON -- South Korea is one of the important partners of the United States in addressing the root causes of people from Central American nations fleeing their countries, US Vice President Kamala Harris said Thursday.

While the United States seeks to mitigate massive migration from Central America to the United States, Harris noted the US "cannot do this work alone."

"Our strategy is far-reaching — and focuses on our partnerships with other governments, international institutions, businesses, foundations, and civil society," she said in a message released by the White House.

"At this writing, we have already received commitments from the governments of Mexico, Japan, and Korea, and the United Nations, to join the United States in providing relief to the region," she added.

The new US strategy for addressing the root causes of migration from Central America comes after Harris' recent trip to Guatemala and Mexico, with thousands of Central American migrants arriving daily at US borders.

"In Central America, the root causes of migration run deep — and migration from the region has a direct impact on the United States," Harris said.

South Korea, despite having little or no stake in addressing the issue, enjoys close relations with most Central American countries while it is one of the United States' closest allies in Asia.

In June, South Korean President Moon Jae-in held his first summit virtually with the leaders of eight Central American nations that form the Central American Integration System, more widely known as SICA. They are Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and the Dominican Republic.

Moon had also agreed to jointly address the root causes of migration from Central American countries when he met his US counterpart, Joe Biden, for their first in-person summit in May.

"We are pleased to expand our partnership to facilitate closer collaboration between the US Agency for International Development and the Korea International Cooperation Agency. We also recognize the importance of addressing the root causes of migration from Central America's Northern Triangle countries to the United States," Moon and Biden said in a joint statement released after their summit here in Washington.

The Northern Triangle countries refer to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

"To this end, the ROK pledges to increase its financial commitment to development cooperation in the Northern Triangle countries to $220 million for the 2021-2024 period," the leaders' statement had said, referring to South Korea by its official name, the Republic of Korea.

Harris also emphasized the need for private investment in Central American nations to address the root causes of migration, which she said included not only the COVID-19 pandemic and extreme weather conditions but also corruption, violence and poverty.

"While, in the past, the private sector has been an underutilized partner, our Administration is calling on US and international businesses to invest in the region," she said in her released message. (Yonhap)

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