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(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on May 16)

National 06:58 May 16, 2023

Setting the foundation for future diplomacy

President Yoon Suk Yeol will have busy diplomatic schedules this week. After meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday in Seoul for a summit, Yoon attends a Group of Seven summit in Hiroshima, Japan from Friday through Sunday. Upon returning home, he meets German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and European Council President Charles Michel on Sunday and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on the following day. Yoon will meet leaders of 10 countries and international bodies in just a week.

The president is scheduled to visit the memorial of the victims of the atomic bombing, including Koreans, together with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. In the upcoming third trilateral summit, Yoon will discuss with Kishida and U.S. President Joe Biden the issue of military information sharing to cope with North Korean nuclear and missile threats in further detail. President Yoon faces the challenges of healing the wounds of the past, maintaining a stable present and moving toward a better future.

On May 9, a day before his inauguration, President Yoon underscored the achievements his administration has made on diplomatic and security fronts over the past year. We can hardly deny his accomplishments in improving diplomatic relations with Japan, strengthening the Korea-U.S. alliance and restoring tripartite cooperation with Washington and Tokyo. To help the diplomatic achievements bear fruits, President Yoon must use this "super week" to draw up a blueprint for the country's future.

The president also needs to review the agreements between him and Kishida and address what's on his plate first. He must persuade the Japanese prime minister to ensure a team of radiation experts from Korea closely monitor the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant later this month and the quality of the treated water beyond the level of a mere site visit. The two countries need to make a farsighted declaration akin to the Élysée Treaty signed by French President Charles de Gaulle and West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer in 1963 to reinforce mutual cooperation in diplomacy, defense, education and culture.

At the same time, President Yoon must consider the strategic importance of China and Russia even while consolidating relations with the West. U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met Chinese Communist Party Politburo Member and Director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission Wang Yi in Vienna for two days last week to find a win-win solution for many disputes. China and Russia are indispensable to resolving the North Korean nuclear issue and closely connected to Korea economically. A decision to exclude the two from our diplomatic choices is half-baked. There is no eternal friend or foe in international relations.


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