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(2nd LD) U.S. diplomat for East Asia policy discusses North Korea, alliance, supply chains in Seoul

All News 20:03 November 11, 2021

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with latest details, comments; CHANGES headline, lead, photos)
By Kim Eun-jung

SEOUL, Nov. 11 (Yonhap) -- The top U.S. diplomat for East Asia met with South Korean officials Thursday to discuss North Korea, the bilateral alliance and joint efforts to build resilient global supply chains.

Daniel Kritenbrink, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, arrived in Seoul on Wednesday for his first trip to the nation since taking office in September.

His trip drew keen attention as the two countries have been in talks on ways to resume dialogue with Pyongyang and a proposed declaration of a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War.

Also, Washington has been rallying its allies and partners to build global supply chains that are less dependent on China in chips, batteries and other key industries.

Daniel Kritenbrink (D), the U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, bumps elbows with his South Korean counterpart, Yeo Seung-bae, a deputy minister for political affairs, on Nov. 11, 2021, during their meeting in Seoul in this photo provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

On the second day of his three-day trip, Kritenbrink met with his South Korean counterpart Yeo Seung-bae, deputy minister for political affairs at the foreign ministry.

"The two sides reaffirmed the robust S. Korea-U.S. alliance is the linchpin of the peace, stability and peace in the Northeast Asia and the Indo-Pacific region," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

"They also agreed to expand the bilateral cooperation to resolve pending global issues, including climate change, COVID-19 response and supply chains," it said.

The diplomats agreed on the need to "stably manage the situation on the Korean Peninsula" and discussed various ways to resume dialogue with Pyongyang at an early date.

The two sides also positively evaluated a recent flurry of high-level meetings between Seoul and Washington officials and vowed to maintain close communications.

Daniel Kritenbrink (R), the U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, shakes hands with Jeong Dae-jin, Deputy Minister for Trade, during their meeting in Seoul on Nov. 11, 2021, in this photo provided by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

In a separate meeting with Deputy Trade Minister Jeong Dae-jin, Kritenbrink talked about how to expand economic cooperation between the two nations to build resilient supply chains in major industrial areas.

"The two sides talked about how to expand cooperation in supply chains in key sectors, including semiconductor and electric vehicle batteries," the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said in a release.

He also sat down with Lee Sung-ho, deputy minister of economic diplomacy at the foreign ministry, to explore ways to forge closer ties in a wide range of areas, including COVID-19 response, climate change and technology, the foreign ministry said.

Last month, South Korean President Moon Jae-in attended a global supply chain summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit and said Seoul will play a greater role in tackling challenges affecting global trade.

Lee Jae-myung, the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party (R), meets with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink at the party's headquarters in Seoul on Nov. 11, 2021. (Yonhap)

Kritenbrink also met with Lee Jae-myung, the presidential nominee of the ruling Democratic Party, to exchange views on bilateral relations and economic issues.

During their meeting at the party's headquarters, the U.S. diplomat emphasized Washington's commitment to the bilateral alliance and vowed to support Seoul's growth into a global partner, Lee's aides said.

He also plans to meet with Yoon Seok-youl, who is to represent the main opposition People Power Party in the March 9 presidential election, before his departure Friday.

ejkim@yna.co.kr
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