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Top diplomats of S. Korea, U.S. to hold bilateral talks at G7 session in London

Diplomacy 10:59 May 03, 2021

By Song Sang-ho

SEOUL, May 3 (Yonhap) -- The top diplomats of South Korea and the United States are set to hold bilateral talks on the margins of a Group of Seven (G7) meeting in London on Monday, officials said, with their agenda likely to include a coordinated strategy on North Korea.

Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong and his U.S. counterpart, Antony Blinken, are scheduled to meet at 10:30 a.m. (London time) while they are in the British capital to attend the gathering of G7 foreign and development ministers, which will last through Wednesday.

The meeting comes after the White House said Friday that the Joe Biden administration had completed a review of policy towards the North, and that it will seek a "calibrated, practical" approach toward the goal of the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

In turn, Pyongyang made harshly-worded statements against Washington and Seoul on Sunday, including slamming Biden for making the "big blunder" of calling its nuclear program a serious threat, with a warning of "corresponding measures."

At the bilateral talks, Chung and Blinken are expected to discuss details of Washington's new policy on the North and coordination on how to make progress in the North's denuclearization.

The two sides could also discuss preparations for the summit between Presidents Moon Jae-in and Biden, slated to take place in Washington on May 21, cooperation in securing COVID-19 vaccines and such global issues as climate change.

Later in the day, Blinken is set to attend a G-7 working welcome dinner on the North and Iran, according to the State Department, a sign that the North Korean nuclear quandary is a matter of concern within the G7 framework.

Chung of South Korea, not party to G-7, will not attend the dinner session. South Korea, Australia, India, South Africa and Brunei, the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, have been invited to the forum as guests.

Also on the sidelines of the multilateral forum, Chung, Blinken and Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi are expected to hold a trilateral session. If realized, the meeting will mark the first talks between Chung and Motegi.

It remains uncertain whether Chung and Motegi will hold their first bilateral talks.

Chung has made overtures for dialogue with Motegi "in any format," but Motegi did not accede to that call amid protracted rows over Tokyo's wartime forced labor, sexual slavery and export curbs.

Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong (R) and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken bump elbows before their talks at the foreign ministry in Seoujl on March 17, 2021. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)


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