The so-called “2+2” meeting between the foreign and defense ministers of South Korea and the U.S. appears set to be revived for the first time in five years.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are expected to visit Seoul on March 17 after stopping over in Tokyo earlier that week. They meet with new Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong and Defense Minister Suh Wook.
The visit has raised fears here that Washington will increase pressure on Seoul to fall in line with efforts to counter China’s growing influence in the Asian region.
The U.S. has military alliances with around 40 countries around the world but 2+2 meetings with only a small handful. The Trump administration only liked Australia and Japan and ditched the 2+2 meetings with Korea. The last one took place in Washington in October of 2016. One reason may have been that ties between Korea and Japan were becoming increasingly fractious, and Tokyo was much more amenable to Trump’s caprices.
But since President Joe Biden took office, U.S. officials have stressed the importance of Washington’s relationship with both Seoul and Tokyo. Blinken was assistant secretary of state back in 2015, when Washington pressured Seoul and Tokyo to reach a settlement over the compensation of Korean women who were forced to serve as sex slaves by imperial Japan during World War II.
Meanwhile, Korea and the U.S. finally struck a new deal to share the upkeep of American troops in Korea in negotiations in Washington over the weekend. The new deal, “which would last through 2025, would provide for a ‘meaningful increase’ in the South Korean contribution, said a State Department spokesperson, who didn’t provide details,” the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday. It is expected to be signed during Blinken and Austin’s visit.
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com