Go to Contents Go to Navigation

S. Korea, U.S., Japan rearranging schedule for defense ministers' talks

Defense 08:00 May 23, 2021

By Oh Seok-min

SEOUL, May 23 (Yonhap) -- South Korea, the United States and Japan are rearranging trilateral defense talks after they were forced to cancel a meeting slated for June in Singapore due to the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said Sunday.

Defense Minister Suh Wook and his U.S. and Japanese counterparts -- Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Minister Nobuo Kishi -- had initially planned to hold talks on the sidelines of the security forum of the Shangri-La Dialogue, set to take place in the Southeast Asian country on June 4-5.

But the organizer, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), said Thursday it decided to cancel the forum due to the deteriorating global virus situation.

"The three sides have a strong willingness to hold a trilateral defense meeting. We are looking for other options," a ministry official said.

The countries prefer an in-person gathering, rather than a video conference, and a meeting in Hawaii could be one option, another official said.

The push for the trilateral meeting comes as Washington calls for better relations between Seoul and Tokyo. During his recent visit to Seoul, Austin said North Korea and China pose "unprecedented challenges."

Suh had a face-to-face meeting with Austin last month in Seoul, but has not spoken with Kishi since taking office in September last year, even via phone.

The top defense officials of Seoul, Washington and Tokyo last met in November 2019 in Bangkok on the sidelines of the 6th ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus).

"We also had sought to hold bilateral talks with Japan, China and several other partner nations during the Shangri-La dialogue. We will explore other ways to boost exchanges and cooperation in defense fields with those countries," the official said.

South Korean Defense Minister Suh Wook (R) and his U.S. counterpart, Lloyd Austin, pose for a photo prior to their talks at the defense ministry in Seoul on March 17, 2021. Austin arrived in Seoul earlier in the day for a three-day visit. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)
Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) Chairman Gen. Won In-choul (2nd from R) poses for a photo with his U.S. and Japanese counterparts, Gen. Mark Milley (C) and Gen. Koji Yamazaki (2nd from L), along with outgoing U.S. Indo-Pacific Command commander Adm. Philip Davidson (far R) and his successor Adm. John Aquilino (far L) in Hawaii on April 29, 2021, in this photo provided by the military. The top uniformed officers of South Korea, the United States and Japan vowed to strengthen their trilateral cooperation amid concerns over North Korea's nuclear and missile programs, Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the next day. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

graceoh@yna.co.kr
(END)

HOME TOP
Send Feedback
How can we improve?
Thanks for your feedback!