November 06, 2020 11:14
President Moon Jae-in called a meeting of foreign affairs and security ministers on Thursday afternoon to discuss the impact of the hotly contested U.S. presidential election on South Korea.
"We will cooperate with the incoming administration on strengthening Korea-U.S. relations and establishing peace on the Korean Peninsula," Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kang Min-seok said. "We are looking at the impact of the U.S. presidential elections from various perspectives."
But at this stage, with Democratic challenger Joe Biden in a fragile lead, the government here was unable to say much more than that it will work with whichever candidate wins and stress the importance of the South Korea-U.S. alliance.
Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha told the National Assembly's Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee, "We have developed many channels of communication with the Biden camp during the election campaign. I do not think the accomplishments of the last three years and the agreements and intentions that were publicly agreed on with the U.S. leader can be turned back to the starting point."
She did not say which achievements she has in mind since matters like the cost-sharing for the upkeep of the U.S. Forces Korea remain unresolved.
Kang head to the U.S. on Sunday to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who may or may not by then be the outgoing secretary and be of little use to her. But she also plans to meet with Democratic politicians in case Biden maintains his lead.
Asked about any shift in the U.S.' North Korea policy in case Biden wins, Unification Minister Lee In-young said he expects Biden to need time to review it, and that will give South Korea time to think of ways of improving cross-border relations.
Even the main opposition People Power Party seems to be hoping for an end to U.S. President Donald Trump's misrule. A spokesman said Biden's election will "significantly help" in strengthening U.S.-South Korea relations, which had come under strain during the Trump administration's "America-first" doctrine.
If Biden is elected, pundits here widely expect a return to the Obama administration's foreign policy, strengthening cooperation with allies from a multilateral perspective.
Most of the people tipped to join Biden in the White House are former ranking officials from the Obama administration. They stressed during the election campaign that the U.S. needs to regain its global leadership role.
The former U.S. vice president is expected to mobilize his diplomatic resources to try and rebuild the international order Trump has done his best to wreck by focusing on shared values and alliances rather than economic quid-pro-quo. That also raises hopes of a swift resolution of the defense cost-sharing tug-of-war.
The Democratic Party believes that the U.S.-South Korea alliance not a matter of money and has stressed the need for a fair division of costs to keep American troops stationed here. It also opposes the pullout of American troops from overseas.
The Biden administration is expected to maintain sanctions against North Korea and is expected to be more vocal than Trump when it comes to North Korea's human rights violations.
There are fears that the election will not be decided any time soon as Trump refuses to concede even if he loses. Trump on Thursday made unproven allegations of vote-counting fraud and filled legal actions over vote tabulation irregularities. "This is a case where they're trying to steal an election, they're trying to rig an election, and we can't let that happen," he said.
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