South Korea president welcomes 'return of diplomacy' in meeting with Blinken

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in (File photo)
South Korean President Moon Jae-in (File photo)

Seoul [South Korea], March 19 (ANI): South Korea's President Moon Jae-in welcomed the "return of diplomacy and alliance" with the United States and reiterated the goal of denuclearizing North Korea, during his first meeting with senior Biden administration officials on Thursday (local time).

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had been in Seoul meeting their counterparts since Wednesday, after stopping in Tokyo, in the first international trip by Biden Cabinet officials since the inauguration.

According to CNN Moon congratulated Blinken and Austin on their roles in the new administration, and said he looked "forward to US leadership in the midst of complex crises."

"Having been a partner for seven decades, sharing values and philosophy on democracy and human rights, ROK (the Republic of Korea) and the US will continue to act together on shared challenges, including a thorough cooperation for a complete denuclearization and permanent peace in the Korean Peninsula," he said at the Blue House as reported by CNN.

He also praised the "rapidly stabilizing" pandemic situation and vaccine rollout in the US, and said the two countries' alliance was "strengthening as the linchpin of peace and prosperity" in the region.

The top US diplomat said that the US officials had good working meetings with their South Korean counterparts and had "a very strong work plan for the coming months."

Earlier in the day, Blinken and Austin met with South Korea's Minister of Foreign Affairs Chung Eui-yong and Minister of National Defense Suh Wook in a joint "2+2" session.

In a joint statement, they said the alliance between their countries "has never been more important" in the midst of increasing global threats, as reported by CNN.

At the meeting, Blinken called on China to play its role in North Korea's denuclearization, saying Beijing and Pyongyang had a "unique relationship."

"I think it has a shared interest in making sure we do something about North Korea's nuclear program and the increasingly dangerous ballistic missile program," Blinken said, adding that he hopes "China will use that influence effectively to move North Korea to denuclearization."

Before South Korea, Blinken and Austin had visited Japan to meet with their counterparts there and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. (ANI)