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Expert calls on S. Korea to use anti-virus cooperation to deepen alliance with U.S., promote peace

Diplomacy 11:51 April 20, 2020

By Song Sang-ho

SEOUL, April 20 (Yonhap) -- South Korea should seize on diplomatic opportunities emanating from its lead in coronavirus containment efforts to deepen the alliance with the United States and promote regional peace, a government-affiliated scholar has said.

In his research paper published Friday, Jun Bong-geun of the state-run Korea National Diplomatic Academy called on Seoul to prioritize providing medical support to the U.S. in light of the "strategic alliance" and seek to establish a bilateral health care cooperation system.

Jun also proposed that countries in Northeast Asia use the COVID-19 pandemic as a chance to bolster their cooperation in public heath care, which he hoped could help promote peace in a region long plagued by historical and territorial feuds.

"As the U.S. is facing the worst medical crisis due to a late response at the early stage of the COVID-19 outbreak, South Korea should push for medical support to the U.S. as the top foreign policy priority in light of the strategic alliance," Jun said.

The scholar noted that South Korea is well positioned as a purveyor of medical supplies to the U.S. given that Washington might find it difficult to secure them from Europe and Japan, which are also struggling with domestic outbreaks.

The U.S. might also have difficulty expecting "good-faith" cooperation with China due to the major powers' strategic rivalry and the ongoing war of words in the handling of the health care crisis.

The scholar's proposal came as a recent plunge in new COVID-19 infections here has created breathing space for South Korea to step up its anti-pandemic cooperation with foreign countries through such efforts as shipping quarantine supplies as exports or humanitarian aid.

On Monday, Seoul's health authorities reported 13 more coronavirus cases, bringing the nation's total infections to 10,674 with 236 deaths. It marked the third day in a row that the country's new virus infections stayed below 20.

To promote health care cooperation with China and Japan, Jun called for the three countries to use existing trilateral platforms such as a videoconference that their vice foreign ministers have agreed to hold on a weekly basis until the pandemic is over.

In the regional context, the scholar also stressed the need for Seoul to continue its push for public health care cooperation with North Korea, both directly and indirectly, through international organizations and nongovernmental agencies.

This photo, taken on Nov. 18, 2016, shows Jun Bong-geun (L), a professor at the state-run Korean National Diplomatic Academy, speaking during a lecture at the institute in Seoul. (Yonhap)

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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