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(LEAD) S. Korea, U.S. to discuss cooperation on Indo-Pacific strategy

All News 14:26 December 04, 2018

(ATTN: UPDATES with details in 7th para, last 2 paras)

SEOUL, Dec. 4 (Yonhap) -- Senior South Korean and U.S. diplomats will hold talks this week on the direction of bilateral economic cooperation, including Seoul's potential contribution to the Trump administration's Indo-Pacific strategy, an official said Tuesday.

The two sides will open the third Senior Economic Dialogue (SED) in Washington D.C. on Friday. It will the first SED session since the Moon Jae-in administration was launched in May last year.

The SED was launched in 2015 and the previous round took place in 2017.

South Korea's delegation will be led by Vice Foreign Minister Lee Tae-ho, and his counterpart will be Manisha Singh, assistant secretary of state for economic and business affairs.

"The meeting will be held in a bid to draw a big picture of future economic ties between the two nations," a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official told reporters.

It adds to various channels of bilateral communication between the allies on security, trade and technology, as well as other ties.

Among the agenda items is the issue of partnerships in Washington's Indo-Pacific scheme in connection with the Moon Jae-in administration's New Southern Policy, which is aimed at improving ties with India and Southeast Asian nations.

The U.S. is expected to request South Korea's active investment but South Korea is not yet ready to talk about detailed projects in which it may become involved, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

South Korea is already seeking a role in China's Belt and Road project.

"For us, it's important to keep a balance between the two (policies of the regional powers)," the official said.

Sanctions against North Korea are not on the agenda, however.

On Thursday, South Korea and the U.S. also plan to hold a joint public-private economic forum, which is a sort of seminar, in the U.S. capital.

It will be organized by Korea Economic Institute (KEI), a local think tank.

Separately, Lee will hold meetings with U.S. opinion leaders, including Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga) and Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) as well as Paul DeLaney, vice president of Business Roundtable, Kathleen Stephens, president and CEO of KEI, and John Hamre, head of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.


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