Updated February. 04, 2014 06:56
Top U.S. officials are paying visits to South Korea in succession. They are visiting South Korea not only to address North Korean issues but also to hold consultation with Seoul on deteriorating South Korea-Japan relations. Following suit of U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel, Secretary of State John Kerry will also reportedly visit South Korea in mid-February. At a security meeting held at Munich, Germany on Saturday, Kerry said, I will be in China in two weeks working on the North Korean issue, working with Korea, Japan, reunification.
Kerry will visit South Korea before or after his visit to China, and the visit will likely come in the third week of this month, just prior to the launch of South Korea-U.S. joint military drill. The itinerary of his upcoming Asia tour will not reportedly include Japan.
Amid this development, attention is focusing on which country U.S. President Barack Obama will choose between South Korea and Japan during his Asian tour scheduled for April. A source in the South Korean government said, The countries President Obama will visit are undecided yet. However, another Seoul source said, The U.S. is aware of ramifications that will be brought about if he skips one of the two countries, South Korea and Japan, adding, Chances are high that he will visit both countries even by reducing the number of countries to visit, or skip both countries. Obama could visit East Asia again in the second half of this year to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Council summit set to take place in China.
Earlier, South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se visited Washington in January 7 and met with Secretary of State Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. Then, , U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns visited South Korea on January 21, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel visited the country on January 26, and Special Representative for North Korea Policy Glyn Davies on January 28, in succession. If vice-ministerial level strategic dialogue between South Korea`s Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kyu-hyeon and U.S. Deputy Secretary Burns held on December 17 last year is included, the number of meetings between top officials from Seoul and Washington increases further.
A source at Seouls Foreign Ministry said, The more frequently high-level talks between South Korea and the U.S. are held, the better Seouls stance and interests can be conveyed to the U.S. government and public.