S. Korea’s national security adviser to meet Pompeo in Washington

Oct 16, 2020, 09:30 am

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South Korea’s National Security Adviser Suh Hoon / Source: Yonhap News

AsiaToday reporter Lee Jang-won 

South Korea’s national security advisor, Suh Hoon, arrived in the United States on Tuesday for his first trip to the U.S. since assuming the post in July. Suh is expected to meet U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who had canceled his visit to South Korea last week after Trump’s virus diagnosis, to discuss various bilateral issues.

There is much attention towards whether Seoul and Washington will be able to work together to deal with a complicated situation in the Korean Peninsula amid the stalled negotiations over the denuclarization of North Korea.

Suh is scheduled to hold a series of meetings with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and some other government and major think tank officials, according to Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Kang Min-seok. The presidential office’s announcement came a few hours after the U.S. State Department’s announcement of the meeting between the two top South Korean and U.S. security officials.

“Suh’s trip to the U.S. will be an opportunity to strengthen strategic communication between the national security councils of the allies, especially on North Korea and pending alliance issues,” Kang said. 

As Suh’s four-day trip comes after President Moon Jae-in’s repeated proposal for a declaration to end the 1950-53 Korean War in a speech at the online United Nations General Assembly last month and an online speech to the Korea Society last Thursday, people are paying attention to whether Suh and his counterpart will discuss related issues. The two are also expected to discuss countermeasures regarding North Korea’s recent showcase of new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in a massive military parade.  

There is a chance that both sides felt the need for an early consultation as Suh’s visit comes amid the recent spread of COVID-19 through the White House. Seoul and Washington showed different views on the conditions-based transfer of wartime operational control (OPCON) from Washington to Seoul. “The United States urges the Republic of Korea, as well as NATO and other allies, to contribute more to our collective security,” said U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper during the 52nd Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) in Washington on Wednesday. Following the talks, the two sides issued a joint communiqué which didn’t mention the U.S.’ commitment to maintaining its troop levels as it did the previous year. 

Therefore, Suh is expected to undertake a role to reaffirm the ROK-US alliance during his trip. Since last month, the government has been engaged in urgent diplomacy with the United States, sending several senior officials since last month, including the First Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun, Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs Lee Do-hoon, the Second Deputy Director of the National Security Office Kim Hyunchong, and Defense Minister Suh Wook.

Suh met with his White House counterpart Robert O’Brien on Wednesday for discussions on issues of mutual concern, including recent Korean Peninsula security situations and bilateral relations. They reaffirmed the firmness of the ROK-US alliance, according to Cheong Wa Dae.

#Suh Hoon #Mike Pompeo #Robert OBrien 
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