September 11, 2023
SEOUL – President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida agreed to continue working on making a three-way summit with China happen within the year, at a meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in India on Sunday.
Yoon asked Kishida to help reopen the meeting after a four-year hiatus prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Yoon’s office said, quoting Kishida as saying that he “will fully cooperate.”
The trilateral summit, which mainly discusses economic ties, could play a more crucial role this year as Seoul, this year’s host, eyes resuming it to alleviate mounting concerns that it is not as interested as before in improving relations with Beijing. Korea has been pushing for closer ties with the US since at least May last year, when the conservative Yoon government took over.
He has since pushed for a stronger alliance with the Washington, having openly denounced China’s aggression with his US and Japanese counterparts at their unprecedented summit in August at Camp David. The meeting provoked anger from Beijing, which called the gathering evidence of the “Cold War mentality.”
The push for closer ties with the US is also linked to elevating Korea’s global profile by taking on bigger roles, according to Yoon officials.
And on Sunday, the last day of the two-day G-20 meeting, Yoon reaffirmed that commitment, stepping up support for Ukraine as it tries to rebuild itself from the grinding war with Russia.
Yoon said Korea will start providing $300 million next year and an additional $2 billion the following year in economic aid to Kyiv. Yoon’s deputy national security adviser, Kim Tae-hyo, called the move “living up to the responsibility.”
Seoul will also help fund underdeveloped nations, Yoon added, saying putting together a new framework to re-regulate businesses using the latest technologies like artificial intelligence will be on the to-do list as well.
The Korean leader has already pledged to fund an additional $300 million to the Green Climate Fund, the main United Nations aid meant to help developing countries cope with climate change. The donation, which will be provided in stages from 2024-2027, will add to the $300 million Seoul has already donated to the group.
“Promoting green technologies and experiences is what we will be leading,” Yoon said during a speech at the summit, stressing Seoul is ready to expand ties with countries over building nuclear reactors and decarbonizing port terminals.
Meanwhile, Yoon and US President Joe Biden reaffirmed their close ties forged during their Camp David summit, touting a stronger alliance will advance not only their interests but also those shared by other Indo-Pacific nations and the global community.
The two leaders, meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit on Saturday, held discussions three times that day, Yoon’s office said. It quoted Biden as praising Yoon for making the August meeting happen. In addition to curbing China’s influence, the three nations sought measures on North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
“The three-way cooperation will surely help promote freedom, peace and prosperity globally, and I’ve been campaigning for that on every occasion,” Yoon’s office quoted the Korean leader as saying. Such cooperation will also “create quality jobs” among the three nations, he noted without elaborating. Yoon added the two should “make more history together.”
Last week, Yoon asked Chinese Premier Li Qiang to do more in helping to disarm the North, at a meeting that took place on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Indonesia. China is the largest benefactor of North Korea, a country defying UN sanctions prompted by its nuclear buildup. Beijing is a UN Security Council member opposing sanctioning Pyongyang.
The meeting came shortly after Yoon called for a rules-based maritime order in the South China Sea. The Korean leader has publicly resisted changing the status quo by force in the region, a reference to Taiwan, the self-ruled democratic island Washington supports. Beijing says it could take it over if necessary, and has shown discomfort with Seoul being so open about its commitment to the region.