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S. Korea joining Quad would be foolish: Armitage

All News 13:41 December 07, 2021

By Byun Duk-kun

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 (Yonhap) -- It would be foolish for South Korea to even consider joining the Quad, former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said Monday, calling the Quad an "anti-China" security grouping.

Armitage highlighted the need to instead have China better implement U.N. Security Council sanctions on North Korea to help denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

"I think for the Republic of Korea to even think that they want to join the four nations -- Australia, India, Japan and the U.S. -- is almost foolish," the former deputy secretary said, referring to the four countries that form the Quad.

"The Republic of Korea has its hands full, being able to handle a real threat from the North. And is it the case that the Republic of Korea wants to join these other four nations in an anti-China security arrangement?" he said in a Washington seminar hosted by the Chey Institute for Advanced Studies, a Seoul-based think tank run by South Korean conglomerate SK Group.

U.S. President Joe Biden hosted the first-ever Quad leaders' meeting in September, following the leaders' first virtual summit held in March.

The U.S. administration has repeatedly said the Quad is an informal grouping designed to help promote democratic values in the Indo-Pacific.

Armitage disagreed, saying, "It's anti-China. Don't make any mistakes about it."

Seoul often pointed to its trade relationship with China when pressed to join the Quad by the former U.S. administration of Donald Trump. China is by far South Korea's single-largest trade partner.

The Joe Biden administration, on the other hand, says it has no plans to expand the four-nation grouping.

"While at this time there are no plans to expand the Quad, our shared values of support for a free, prosperous Indo-Pacific are certainly embraced by many other regional partners and we believe there will be ways to continue to expand regional cooperation," White House coordinator for Asia Kurt Campbell said earlier.

Armitage noted the more urgent issue for peace on the Korean Peninsula may be to have China more faithfully implement U.N. sanctions on North Korea.

"Even at the best of times, China has cheated on sanctions, and I think that's undeniable and even the most fervent supporter of China would have to acknowledge that they have cheated," he said. "And they will continue to cheat in bad times just as well."

bdk@yna.co.kr
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