By Kim Seung-yeon
SEOUL, Sept. 25 (Yonhap) -- Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha reacted negatively Friday to the idea of joining a U.S.-led Asia-Pacific alliance aimed at keeping a rising China in check, saying it is not a good idea to shut out other countries.
Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha made the remark during a virtual seminar when she was asked if her country was open to joining Washington's initiative to enlarge the so-called Quad currently involving Australia, Japan and India.
"We don't think anything that automatically shuts out, and is exclusive of, the interests of others is a good idea," Kang said during the seminar hosted by Asia Society, a U.S.-based nonprofit foundation, on the occasion of the 75th U.N. General Assembly.
"If that's a structured alliance, we will certainly think very hard whether it serves our security interests," she said.
U.S. officials have called for expanding the Quad to one akin to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), to ensure security in the Indo-Pacific region against an assertive China. Talk of South Korea possibly joining the Quad has also gained traction.
While Seoul has "never been invited by the Quad" to be part of it, it is "ready to have discussion with whoever has an approach that is inclusive, open and in accordance with international norms," Kang said.
On the growing U.S.-China tensions, Kang disagreed with the idea of having to make a choice on which side South Korea will take, underscoring the need to work with other middle powers to best meet common interests.
"Korea is certainly in a geopolitical position that looks like we are caught in a crossfire. But I think you can turn that around and say it's a leverage," she said. "Utilizing those partnerships with like-minded friends and countries, we will make sure that our security and economic interests are preserved and promoted."
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