President Moon Jae-in’s top security adviser is expected to arrive in Washington on Tuesday for three-way talks with his US and Japanese counterparts amid rising tensions over North Korea and Iran, diplomatic sources said Tuesday.
Chung Eui-yong, director of Cheong Wa Dae’s national security office, is scheduled to meet with US national security adviser Robert O’Brien and Japan’s National Security Council chief Shigeru Kitamura on Wednesday.
Chung Eui-yong (Yonhap)
The three are likely to discuss ways to cooperate and bring North Korea back to the negotiation table a week after its leader, Kim Jong-un, warned of a “new strategic weapon,” suggesting the possible resumption of nuclear and long-range missile tests.
The three allies are also expected to discuss the situation in the Middle East as Tehran vows “severe revenge” for the targeted killing of Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, ordered by US President Donald Trump.
South Korea has been reviewing sending troops to the Strait of Hormuz for months at the request of the US.
Cheong Wa Dae’s National Security Council held a standing committee meeting, presided over by Chung, on Monday to discuss ways to deal with the crisis in Iran, which has heightened international concerns and rattled financial markets.
Multiple diplomatic sources said the three-way talks on Wednesday would be mostly about North Korean issues such as the Workers’ Party Central Committee meeting last week, but there will likely be exchanges of views on the Iranian situation as well.
The meeting could also reaffirm the need for trilateral cooperation among the allies following the near-termination of a military intelligence-sharing pact between South Korea and Japan, a source told Yonhap News.
Japan’s Kyodo News reported on Friday that South Korea, the US and Japan were seeking to hold a meeting of high-level national security officials as early as Jan. 8 to show close cooperation and urge North Korea to refrain from provocations.
Their agenda could include returning to exerting “maximum pressure” on North Korea, Kyodo said.
The three-way meeting was initially planned for early December, but was put off due to differences over the General Security of Military Information Agreement, and was being pushed for again after the summit between Moon and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Dec. 24, Kyodo added.
Chung is expected to return to South Korea around Thursday.
He had visited the US in October for closed-door talks with O’Brien to discuss GSOMIA.
By Kim So-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org