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Pompeo's visit to Seoul to focus on regional cooperation: Stilwell

All News 00:07 October 03, 2020

WASHINGTON, Oct. 2 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to South Korea this month will partly focus on enhancing the countries' regional cooperation, a senior U.S. diplomat said Friday, amid the U.S.' push for a NATO-like multilateral alliance designed to counter China's growing presence in the region.

"In Korea, we will reaffirm the ironclad U.S.-ROK alliance, which is the linchpin of peace and security in the region," said David Stilwell, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs. ROK stands for South Korea's official name, the Republic of Korea.

"ROK is a critical partner on regional and global issues including combating COVID-19, advancing peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula and strengthening regional ties into the Indo-Pacific strategy," he told a teleconference.

The State Department earlier said the top U.S. diplomat will visit South Korea on Oct. 7-8, following his trip to Tokyo where he will attend a four-way meeting with his counterparts from Australia, India and Japan in what is known as the Quad.

Washington has been increasingly pushing for the multilateral structure amid its growing tension with China.

Pompeo and other U.S. officials have stressed the need to expand the structure into the so-called Quad Plus, calling on Seoul and its other allies and partners in the region to join.

South Korea has remained reluctant, citing its economic ties with China, which accounts for nearly one quarter of its overall exports.

Stilwell highlighted strong ties between South Korea and his country.

"On economic and people to people ties, the United States is ROK's second-largest trading partner and top foreign investor after Japan. The ROK is a major investor in the United States, our country share a commitment to free trade, human rights and democracy," he said.

"And now we continue to advance our cooperation on regional and global issues under the U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy," the U.S. diplomat added.

He also underscored the importance of cooperation between the allies in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, noting South Korea has set an example of how a democracy can successfully combat the pandemic "with openness and transparency."

bdk@yna.co.kr
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