By Song Sang-ho
SEOUL, Aug. 3 (Yonhap) -- U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in South Korea on Wednesday, as part of her Asia swing that has taken on geopolitical overtones with China lambasting her high-stakes visit to Taiwan as an "interference in internal affairs."
The U.S. Air Force's C-40C aircraft carrying her congressional delegation landed at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, 70 kilometers south of Seoul, following visits to Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan. Her delegation will also travel to Japan.
Hours before her arrival, an aide to President Yoon Suk-yeol welcomed Pelosi's planned trip here. But the official noted Seoul's position on the need to ensure "regional peace and stability through dialogue and cooperation," when asked to comment on renewed Sino-U.S. friction over Taiwan.
Yoon, currently on vacation, has no plan to meet Pelosi. Foreign Minister Park Jin is not available either due to his visit to Cambodia for a series of annual gatherings hosted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
On Thursday, Pelosi is set to have talks with South Korean National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin-pyo. The two sides are expected to discuss North Korea-related issues, security in the overall Indo-Pacific region, economic cooperation and global challenges like the climate crisis.
Following their talks, the two plan to issue a joint press statement and have a luncheon, according to Kim's office.
Her Asia tour has been a key focus of geopolitical tensions this week as China has bristled at her defiant visit to Taiwan, which it views as part of its territory under the one-China policy.
On Monday, Zhao Lijian, the spokesperson of Beijing's foreign ministry, warned her visit to Taiwan would constitute a "gross" interference in China's internal affairs, undermine China's sovereignty and lead to "grave consequences."
Pelosi has framed her Asia trip as an effort to reaffirm "America's strong and unshakeable commitment to our allies and friends" with a focus on mutual security, economic partnership and democratic governance in the Indo-Pacific region.
Her arrival here came at a sensitive juncture when South Korea is striving to boost its long-standing security alliance with the U.S. while maintaining its sprawling economic and other partnerships with China.
Pelosi's delegation includes House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Gregory Meeks and House Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Mark Takano as well as other lawmakers such as Suzan DelBene, Raja Krishnamoorthi and Andy Kim.
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