Security on the Korean Peninsula: what South Korea says
SEOUL – While the remarks of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence have been widely reported, those of his Korean hosts less so in foreign media. The South Korean Government online newsletter, Korea.net, reports the response to Pence from Acting President Hwang Kyo-Ahn, as follows:
“At this time, when the security situation on the Korean Peninsula is dire due to North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile provocations, Vice President Pence’s visit to Korea, his first destination in Asia since taking office, shows the firm stance that the new U.S. Administration has toward developing our alliance and toward responding to North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats.”
“Today, the Vice President and I agreed that, on the basis of close co-operation and collaboration, the Korea-U.S. alliance has grown into an indispensable lynchpin for peace and security on the Peninsula and in Northeast Asia, as well as a successful strategic alliance that works together to resolve global challenges.
“In response to North Korea’s continuously advancing nuclear and missile threats, we have agreed to continue to pursue various measures to strengthen our deterrence capabilities and combined defence posture to include extended deterrence.
“We’ve also agreed to further strengthen the readiness of the Korea-U.S. alliance in response to the North’s growing threat by ensuring early deployment and operation of the United States Forces Korea (USFK)’s THAAD system.”
Korea.net said that, as he stressed the need to “evolve a comprehensive set of capabilities to ensure the security of Korea,” Vice President Pence said the U.S. is “troubled by China’s economic retaliation against Korea for taking appropriate steps to defend itself. The better path would be for China to address the North Korean threat that is actually making such defensive measures necessary”.
Korea/Japan/China trade talks continuing
Significantly, the same issue of Korea.net reports on the 12th round of trilateral FTA talks between South Korea China and Japan in Tokyo from April 10 to 13 “with the goal of accelerating completion of the agreement”.
“During this round, diplomats from the three Governments delved into the modality, or basic guidelines, of the proposed trilateral FTA, as well covering the loosening of trade regulations in services and investments,” the report says.
“The three sides touched upon new areas of trade, including finance, communications and the movement of human resources, in particular. They also had in-depth negotiations that spanned intellectual property rights and e-commerce.”
The report quotes Lee Sang-jin, Assistant Minister for Trade at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, as saying: “More efforts should be made to facilitate negotiations for the Korea-China-Japan FTA”.
Korea.net adds: “He also pointed out the progress that had been made in negotiations on tariffs in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a proposed FTA between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and other economies.
“China’s Vice Minister of Commerce, Wang Shouwen, said: ‘Hopefully, we will get rid of potential sources of conflict from negative perspectives of globalisation that might be caused by protectionism.”
”Japanese Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Keiichi Katakami, said: ‘The FTA between Seoul, Tokyo and Beijing should be one that brings comprehensive, mutual benefits to us all’.” www.korea.net (ATI).