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Yun: U.S., South on same page about North

Mar 24,2017
Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Yun Byung-se affirmed that Seoul and Washington are on the same page with regard to North Korea’s provocations, during his exchanges with the U.S. defense, treasury and state secretaries on the sidelines of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS in Washington Wednesday.

U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin vowed to Yun that the Treasury Department will play “an important role in bolstering sanctions on North Korea,” according to the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs Thursday.

Mnuchin was said to have added that he and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will “closely cooperate” on this issue, as well, amid the Donald Trump administration’s overarching review of its Pyongyang policy.

Yun was in Washington to attend the 68-member coalition to counter Islamic State upon the invitation of State Secretary Tillerson, who he last met less than a week ago.

“The Trump administration is undergoing a review of its North Korea policy, which reflects our joint understanding that pressure on North Korea through sanctions has to continue,” Yun told reporters in Washington on the sidelines of the meeting. “In this process, our opinions are being conveyed through State Secretary Rex Tillerson.”

Yun also held talks with U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis, who reaffirmed Washington’s security commitment to Korea and emphasized it will stand by Seoul as it goes through difficult times.

Some 48 foreign ministers took part in the conference, which last convened in 2014, who in a statement reiterated their commitment to “an integrated, multidimensional, and comprehensive approach to defeat ISIS and its global networks, fully recognizing this will require sustained, focused efforts.”

The Korean top diplomat met separately with over 30 of the foreign ministers attending the meeting, along with key U.S. officials dealing with the Korean Peninsula issue.

Yun was reunited with Tillerson less than a week since their first meeting in Seoul as the U.S. top diplomat made Northeast Asia his first overseas destination since taking office.

During his visit to Seoul on March 17, Tillerson said in a joint press conference with Yun that China’s strong retaliation against Korea for the deployment of the U.S.-led Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or Thaad, antimissile system was “unnecessary” and “troubling.”

Tillerson was said to have conveyed this message to Beijing in his trip to China over Saturday and Sunday.

On China’s backlash to the Thaad deployment in Korea, Yun told reporters that Seoul has requested Foreign Minister Wang Yi for the Chinese government to take appropriate action to resolve the situation and also appealed to the World Trade Organization.

“Depending on China’s response, we will review addition measures,” he added.

Mattis, who is pushing for an additional $30 billion in defense budget for 2017, citing the growing threat of terrorism and North Korea, likewise visited Seoul last month.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]