(ATTN: UPDATES with remarks by a US Division of Protection spokesperson at paragraphs 13-15)

SEOUL / WASHINGTON, March 10 (Yonhap) – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin will journey to Seoul subsequent week for a “two plus two” assembly with their South Korean counterparts, introduced Wednesday the Ministries of International Affairs and Protection. , as allies search coordination on North Korea’s denuclearization and different points.

Blinken and Austin are anticipated to reach on Wednesday after a visit to Japan as a part of their first swing in Asia since President Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20. A day later, they are going to attend the joint assembly with International Minister Chung Eui-yong and Protection Minister Suh Wook.

Such a two-plus-two assembly was final held in Washington in October 2016. The format was instituted in 2010 to focus on the alliance towards North Korean navy threats.

The assembly will come amid a slew of excellent points, together with stalled nuclear diplomacy with Pyongyang and slower-than-expected preparations for the switch of operational management (OPCON) of forces to South Korea within the occasion of conflict.

The agenda for the following assembly may embody creating new momentum to re-engage with the North and advance stalled denuclearization talks with it, make progress within the OPCON switch course of, and rejuvenate the North. alliance to sort out world points, reminiscent of local weather change and cyber threats. .

On the event of the go to of senior American officers, Seoul and Washington may additionally signal an official settlement on the sharing of the parking prices of 28,500 American troopers, as an indication of will to strengthen the alliance.

South Korea and the USA have finalized a brand new Particular Measures Settlement (SMA), below which Seoul will enhance its fee for the stationing of American forces in Korea by 13.9% this 12 months from 2019. As a part of the multi-year settlement till 2025, Seoul’s fee shall be linked to the rise within the price of its protection spending.

Washington must also use the go to of senior officers right here as a chance to consolidate trilateral cooperation with Seoul and Tokyo, and create a united entrance towards North Korea’s nuclear threats and China’s rising assertiveness.

The US State Division later stated the upcoming journey will spotlight cooperation between the USA and its Asian allies.

“Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken will journey to Tokyo, Japan, and Seoul, Republic of Korea (ROK), March 15-18 to reaffirm the USA’ dedication to strengthen our alliances and underline the cooperation which promotes peace and safety, and prosperity within the Indo-Pacific area and on this planet, ”he stated in a press launch, utilizing the official identify of South Korea.

He added that the secretary of state will meet together with his South Korean counterpart and different senior officers to debate problems with bilateral and world significance.

Secretary Blinken can even nearly meet with younger Korean leaders and host a digital panel dialogue with rising Korean journalists to debate the significance of the US-Korea Alliance in selling peace, safety and prosperity within the Indo-Pacific area and the world, “It stated.

A US Division of Protection official stated the deliberate go to by the US secretaries underscores the significance the brand new US administration locations on the area regardless of the continuing pandemic.

“As I feel … this was factored into the necessity to take action. However such significance is positioned on the Indo-Pacific area, accurately, that Secretary Austin and Secretary Blinken felt that it “was a visit value taking about this. specific second,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby stated at a press briefing.

He stated extra particulars on the following journey could be accessible later within the week, however stated, when requested, that the US protection chief had no plans to go to the demilitarized zone.

On Wednesday, Chung and Suh can even meet their counterparts individually.

“Minister Chung and Secretary Blinken will meet on Wednesday to alternate views on South Korea-US relations, Korean Peninsula points and regional and world cooperation,” stated the Minister. Ministry of International Affairs in a press launch.

The ministry additionally expressed the hope that Blinken and Austin’s go to to Seoul will present a chance to strengthen communication and cooperation between the 2 international locations and additional strengthen their alliance.

The Seoul Protection Ministry stated throughout their bilateral talks, Suh and Austin would alternate their assessments of the safety scenario on the Korean Peninsula and talk about a spread of alliance points.

A Cheong Wa Dae official stated preparations are additionally underway for senior U.S. officers to pay a courtesy go to to President Moon Jae-in whereas they’re in Seoul.

Austin plans to remain till Friday, whereas Blinken leaves on Thursday.

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