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Leader of new party calls for sending special envoy to U.S. before N. Korea

All Headlines 11:14 February 14, 2018

SEOUL, Feb. 14 (Yonhap) -- A leader of the newly created minor opposition Bareun Future Party said Wednesday the government should send a special envoy to the United States first to further solidify the alliance with Washington before sending one to North Korea.

Rep. Yoo Seong-min, a co-leader of the centrist party created through a merger of the People's Party and the Bareun Party, also said South Korea should conduct the postponed joint military exercises with the U.S. immediately after the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

"Rather than talking only to North Korea, the Moon Jae-in government should talk to the United States," Yoo said during the first meeting of the party's supreme council. "The Moon government should immediately send a special envoy to the U.S. government and Congress to really solidify the Korea-U.S. alliance."

Relations between South Korea and North Korea warmed rapidly in recent weeks due to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's so-called charm offensive toward the South, which has included the country's participation in the PyeongChang Olympics and a surprise visit to the South by the leader's sister.

The North's leader also invited Moon via his sister to visit the North.

Conservative critics have voiced concern that the South is playing into the North's hands as the communist regime is using the charm offensive to undermine international sanctions. They also argue that the South's stance could alienate the U.S., which is determined to continue its "maximum pressure" campaign against Pyongyang.

Yoo, who served as leader of the center-right Bareun Party, said it is more important now than ever to strengthen the alliance with the U.S. because Seoul could use the strong relationship to prevent Washington from unilaterally using military options.

"But the Moon government is increasingly rocking the Korea-U.S. alliance and trust relationship," he said.

Rep. Yoo Seong-min, co-leader of the newly created Bareun Future Party, speaks during the first meeting of the party's supreme council on Feb. 14. (Yonhap)


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