October 4, 2022

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol spoke with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for about 40 minutes Thursday by phone — despite both being in Seoul, as Yoon declined to interrupt a vacation of him to meet her.

Yoon, a conservative who succeeded leftist former President Moon Jae-in after a bitter presidential race in May, reportedly asked Pelosi for “close cooperation with the US Congress,” according to South Korea. JoongAng IlboSouth Korea relies heavily on the US military for its defense, having technically been at war with neighboring North Korea for nearly a century. The US military still maintains a presence on their mutual border, known as the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), and is also technically at war with North Korea and its ally, China, despite signing an armistice agreement ending hostilities in 1953.

Pelosi’s cold welcome in Seoul is in stark contrast to her other stops on her ongoing Asia trip, which so far has included meeting the presidents of Singapore and Taiwan. Pelosi, along with a small congressional delegation, made a surprise stop in the country of Taiwan despite weeks of war threats from the Chinese Communist Party, which has since responded to her visit by engaging in an effective blockade of the island nation and banning thousands imports from Taiwan. Before Pelosi’s visit, a top Chinese propagandist suggested the Communist Party kidnap or kill Pelosi if she dared to visit Taiwan.

In South Korea, the country’s Yonhap news agency reported Thursday that Yoon’s office declined to schedule a one-on-one meeting with Pelosi while her delegation was in Seoul.

“President Yoon Suk-yeol plans to speak by phone with visiting US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi later Thursday, his office said, after officials said earlier that no meeting between the two is scheduled as Yoon is on summer vacation” , Yonhap. mentionted.

The phone call, which lasted about 40 minutes according to JoongAng Ilbo, noted on Thursday. This newspaper noted the stark visual contrast between Pelosi’s engagement with Yun and the other two presidents on her Asia tour so far — notable especially because Yun has promised to bring Seoul closer to the United States and out of its orbit. China, which he had seduced. partly in under Moon Jae-in.

Yun’s first international engagement came in June – a meeting with leftist President Joe Biden, in which he stressed that cooperation between the two countries (and Japan, whose prime minister was also in attendance) was necessary in light of the “increased uncertainties’ related to North Korea. and China. Both Yun and conservative Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio pressed Biden to do more to contain communist threats. Pelosi is reportedly meeting Kisida on the next leg of her Asia tour.

“Yun is on vacation this week, although plans to leave Seoul were canceled on Monday due to falling approval ratings. So he was in Seoul when Pelosi was,” the paper noted. Yun won a narrow victory in a largely negative campaign against leftist rival Lee Jae-myung that left both candidates with significant unpopularity among the general public.

The call, according to both sides, was nonetheless cordial. Yun appeared to welcome Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, applauding her “long-term commitment to promoting liberal democracy and human rights,” according to a statement from his office.

Yun “called for continued support for the development of the global comprehensive strategic alliance between Korea and the United States.” reading of the conversation published by his office was read. “Chairman Pelosi and the US congressional delegation said that the importance of the ROK [South Korea]-The US alliance as a key pillar for regional peace and stability is growing, and that the US Congress will make active efforts to develop the ROK-US alliance.”

Yun also reportedly said he hoped to meet Pelosi in person during his “next visit to the US and have in-depth discussions.”

The conversation appeared to go similarly to her one-on-one dialogue with her South Korean counterpart, National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin-pyo – a member of Moon Jae-in’s left-leaning Democratic Party. The two appeared together at a press conference and clarified that their discussions included dealing with the continuing threat of communist North Korea and supporting Ukraine in its war against Russia. Pelosi did not specify in her remarks exactly what Washington hoped South Korea would do to help Ukraine.

“When we talk about security, and when we talk about the economy, when we talk about governance, it’s the same thing,” Pelosi said at the briefing, according to copy published by her office. “It is the fight against the pandemic, the saving of the planet. So many things to discuss, so many opportunities that are best served by, especially, in an interparliamentary way.”

In addition to visiting Seoul, Pelosi and her delegation are reportedly visiting scheduled to visit the DMZ – specifically, the border “peaceful village” of Panmunjom, where former President Donald Trump met with North Korean communist dictator Kim Jong-un in 2019, making him the first US president to set foot in the North Korea.

While Pelosi has moved on to the next leg of her Asia trip, the Chinese Communist Party continues to argue against her visit to Taiwan, in which she met with President Tsai, senior legislative leaders and other government officials who China considers ” separatist”. criminals. While Taiwan is a sovereign nation, China insists, falsely, that it is a “province” of China that is currently illegally occupied by a “separatist” group (the democratically elected government of Taiwan).

“Since Speaker Pelosi is the sitting leader of the US Congress, her visit and activities in Taiwan, in any form and for any reason, is a major political challenge to upgrade US official exchanges with Taiwan “, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said. lengthy statement released shortly after Pelosi landed in Taiwan on Tuesday. “China absolutely does not accept it and the Chinese people absolutely reject it.”

The State Department went on to condemn Biden for not violating the separation of powers principle and bar Pelosi from traveling to the country.

Pelosi dismissed the Communist outrage in remarks on Wednesday, saying it was the product of “certain insecurities on the part of the Chinese president [dictator Xi Jinping] as to his own political situation that he rattles the sword.’

“But it doesn’t really matter,” Pelosi concluded. “What matters to us is that we welcome Taiwan’s successes. We work together for Taiwan’s security. And we simply learn great lessons from democracy.”

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