August 18, 2011 09:12
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrived in China on Wednesday as part of a trip to Asia that does not include Korea.
Biden is in Beijing at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, where he will stay for an unprecedented five days. He then travels to Mongolia and Japan.
Until recently, the U.S. reportedly wanted to include Korea in his itinerary, but the State Department did not think that was a good idea because it feared this could damage the prospects of Korean lawmakers ratifying the bilateral free trade agreement.
A diplomatic source in Seoul said Wednesday, "The U.S. was concerned about an adverse reaction if Biden discusses or mentions the bilateral FTA deal during his stay in Seoul."
The source was referring to a possible backlash from opposition parties and leftwing organizations that are against the Korea-U.S. FTA, who might claim that Biden had come to pressure Korea into ratifying the deal.
The FTA has not been even submitted to the National Assembly Foreign Affairs, Trade and Unification Committee yet. The U.S. government plans to ratify the FTA after Congress reopens in early September.
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