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Posted : 2014-01-06 10:52
Updated : 2014-01-06 10:52

Foreign Minister in D.C. for talks with Kerry, Hagel



Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se began a three-day trip to Washington Sunday aimed at discussing North Korea, and history and territorial tensions in Northeast Asia.

Some of Japan's domestic issues such as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's tribute to the Yasukuni Shrine have "become a matter of worries not only on a bilateral level between South Korea and Japan but also in the international community," Yun said.

He was speaking to reporters shortly after laying flowers at the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the first of his official activities here.

The minister plans to meet with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on Monday and Secretary of State John Kerry the next day.

"In meeting with U.S. leaders, I will explain the South Korean government's position (on the Yasukuni issue) and endeavor to spread understanding on it," Yun said.

Abe's surprise visit in December to the Tokyo shrine linked to Japan's militarist past has exacerbated political and diplomatic tensions between Seoul and Tokyo.

Yun said his discussions with Kerry and Hagel will also focus on discussing North Korea, which is apparently in a political upheaval. Last month, Pyongyang announced the dismissal and execution of Jang Song-thaek, who was considered to be the number-two leader.

"As situations in North Korea are a matter of major concern for South Korea and the U.S., an underlying policy on North Korea for the coming several years will be discussed," the minister said.

Other agenda items include alliances issues, including Seoul's request for delaying the timing of a wartime operational control transition and China's unilateral creation of an air defense identification zone in the East Sea, according to aides to the minister.

During his visit to Washington, Yun is also scheduled to hold a series of meetings with former secretaries of states -- Madeleine Albright and Colin Powell -- and Sen. Robert Menendez, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, they said. (Yonhap)


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