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FM Park, Blinken to meet in Seoul next week

Foreign Minister Park Jin will discuss North Korea’s nuclear threats and other key issues with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during the US diplomat’s two-day trip to South Korea, which starts Nov. 8, according to the Foreign Ministry in Seoul on Wednesday.

The visit, the first in two and a half years, comes as South Korea doubles down on the importance of the US nuclear umbrella to prevent a North Korean strike. The two allies agreed on giving Seoul a bigger say in how Washington delivers on its commitment at the White House summit in April.

Another issue up for discussion will be the coordination of policy on global supply chains and China ahead of a summit between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco.

The Nov. 11-17 gathering could see a meeting between the Korean and Chinese leaders as well. Last week, Cho Tae-yong, President Yoon Suk Yeol’s national security adviser, openly floated such a possibility, without offering any specifics. Cho had earlier said a Seoul-Beijing summit would happen in some capacity, without elaborating on a timeline.

After the APEC summit, Park will meet with his Japanese and Chinese counterparts, potentially in Busan, to finalize the agenda before the three nations officially resume their regular leader-level summit. The summit, which last took place in 2019, was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic and political tensions.

It is thought that the resumption of the trilateral summit will give a boost to the Yoon administration, as the conservative leader looks to balance maintaining close ties with the US while avoiding a complete sidelining of China -- a key aspect of Yoon’s foreign policy. Broader information on the strategy was released last year. Details will follow in January at the earliest, according to sources.

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