Yoon, Harris discuss IRA, NK provocations

Sep 30, 2022, 07:23 am

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South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and U.S. Vice President Kalama Harris pose for a photo before talks at the presidential office in Seoul on Sept. 29, 2022./ Source: Yonhap

AsiaToday reporter Lee Wook-jae 

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris met for 85 minutes at the presidential office on Thursday and discussed a wide range of issues, including ways to strengthen the bilateral relationship, North Korean provocations, economic security and international issues.

During the meeting, Harris said the U.S. will review ways to resolve South Korea’s concerns about the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), and reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to the defense of South Korea against the North Korean provocations.

“Following U.S. President Biden’s visit to South Korea, U.S. President Harris’ visit is expected to be another turning point to strengthen the Seoul-Washington alliance,” Yoon said at the presidential office. The last time a U.S. vice president visited South Korea was in 2018. 

The two first expressed serious concern about North Korea’s recent ballistic missile launches and legalization of its nuclear force policy. At the same time, Harris reaffirmed the United States’ “ironclad” defense commitment to South Korea. 

The two sides noted that the two countries are in close consultation “to strengthen the combined defense posture, including extended deterrence” and agreed to immediately implement countermeasures jointly prepared by both countries in close cooperation in the event of serious North Korean provocations, such as the 7th nuclear test.

Yoon also conveyed South Korea’s concerns about the IRA, saying, “I look forward to working closely so that the two countries reach a mutually satisfactory agreement based on the spirit of the Korea-US free trade agreement.” In response, Harris said not only she, but also President Biden, are well aware of such concerns, and she said she will look into it carefully in order to address Seoul’s concerns in the process enforcing the law.

The two also reaffirmed their cooperation on implementing a liquidity facility aimed at stabilizing the financial market, which appears to refer to a currency swap between the two countries.

In addition, the two sides agreed to actively seek ways to strengthen cooperation in the space field, as Harris is chairman of the U.S. National Space Council (NSpC). They also agreed to hold consultations to arrange Yoon’s visit to Washington next year to mark the 70th anniversary of the alliance. 

Meanwhile, on the controversy surrounding Yoon and Biden’s meetings in New York last week, Harris said the U.S. is “not bothered by it at all,” apparently referring to Yoon’s remarks caught on hot mic, which were initially reported as including vulgar language in reference to U.S. Congress and Biden. Harris also said that Biden has deep trust in Yoon and is satisfied with the meeting with him in London and New York last week. 

#Yoon Suk-yeol #Kamala Harris #IRA #North Korea #Joe Biden 
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