(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; UPDATES throughout)
By Song Sang-ho
SEOUL, July 23 (Yonhap) -- First Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman held talks in Seoul on Friday over stalled nuclear diplomacy with North Korea and other bilateral and global issues.
The strategic dialogue comes as Washington pushes to cement regional alliances and partnerships to confront shared challenges, including China's growing assertiveness.
The agenda for the meeting included regional challenges that "threaten to undermine the rules-based international order," Sherman said, stressing Seoul and Washington are bound by "our common security interests" and "our common values of democracy and freedom."
"I expect we will continue to discuss regional challenges, including actions that run counter to the interests of the United States and the Republic of Korea and threaten to undermine the rules-based international order," Sherman said at the start of the talks.
"I'm hoping to discuss how our two democracies can deepen our cooperation to address climate change, which is one of the biggest crises facing the world, and an area where action equals opportunity, including good jobs in clean energy," she added.
Choi took note of Sherman's role in the so-called Perry Process in 1999, saying the effort demonstrated that the Korean Peninsula issue can be settled through diplomacy.
Proposed by former Defense Secretary William Perry, the process refers to a three-stage proposal to tackle the North's nuclear problem, which involves the normalization of ties between the U.S. and the North.
"Since the launch of the Biden administration, bilateral communication and exchanges have continued without a pause even for a day," Choi said.
"That attests to the fact that the South Korea-U.S. alliance is being upgraded into a sound alliance in which the two countries help each other," he added.
Sherman arrived here Wednesday for a three-day visit, after she had trilateral talks with Choi and her Japanese counterpart, Takeo Mori, in Tokyo to highlight trilateral cooperation.
Sherman is set to depart for Mongolia later in the day. She also plans to visit China and Oman later.
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