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(LEAD) S. Korea to accelerate Quad working group participation: official

All News 16:57 March 08, 2023

(ATTN: UPDATES with China's response in last 2 paras; CHANGES dateline)

WASHINGTON/BEIJING, March 8 (Yonhap) -- South Korea plans to "proactively accelerate" its participation in the Quad working group, while it has not yet formally joined the U.S.-led team also involving Australia, India and Japan, a senior Seoul official said.

"Although we have not yet joined the Quad, the Yoon Suk Yeol government has been emphasizing its importance in terms of its Indo-Pacific strategy," the official told reporters Tuesday on the condition of anonymity during a visit to Washington, D.C.

Quad stands for the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, a summit-level group regarded by China as aimed at countering its influence in the region.

South Korea will take a "gradual approach" to seek formal participation in the Quad, carrying out "functional cooperation" by taking part in working group on vaccines, climate change and new technologies in earnest, according to the official, who cited Yoon's presidential campaign pledge to do so.

"To that effect, I think (South Korea) will have to proactively accelerate working group participation," the official added.

In response, the Chinese government reiterated its call for other nations to stay away from activities of an "exclusive small group."

"It's Beijing's constant position that country-to-country cooperation should conform to the trend of the times of peace and development and relevant countries should not create any exclusive small group," the foreign ministry's spokesperson Mao Ning said during a press briefing.

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