US wants 'stable' ties between Korea, Japan: Campbell
WASHINGTON (Yonhap) -- Kurt Campbell, a top U.S. diplomat for East Asia and the Pacific, said Wednesday that Washington hopes for "stable and enduring" relations between Seoul and Tokyo.
He emphasized that the two Northeast Asian nations are key allies in the U.S. effort to promote both "multilateral and minilateral engagements."
"What we want to see is a more stable, enduring engagement between Seoul and Tokyo going forward," said Campbell, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs.
He was delivering a keynote speech at the annual conference of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). Campbell is the former CEO and co-founder of the Washington-based think tank, closely tied to the Obama administration.
Rebalancing priorities toward Asia after a decade of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. has proclaimed itself a Pacific power.
Without a doubt, he said, the U.S. alliances with South Korea and Japan, respectively, play a pivotal role in its initiative.
But Seoul-Tokyo ties have been often prickly due to disputes over shared history and territorial sovereignty.
Campbell said improved relations between the neighboring nations are important in the U.S. effort to expand so-called minilateral engagements, meaning smaller-scale meetings between nations such as South Korea, Japan, India and China.
"These kinds of multi -- minilateral engagements can be remarkably important in building trust and tackling critical issues that lie before particular countries," he said. "I think of those groups, probably the most important for us is going to be the United States, Japan and Korea."
In his extensive, about 30-minute talk, Campbell did not mention North Korea.
He did comment on recent diplomatic accomplishments -- asylum for blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng and the political change in Myanmar, or Burma.
He took a few questions from the audience, but refused to talk separately to the media.