November 11, 2020 09:45
Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha met U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over a working lunch on Monday that merely confirmed disagreements between the allies on key issues one last time before Pompeo loses his job.
Their lunch at the State Department in Washington was their first meeting in 10 months, and the timing caused some head-scratching here since Pompeo’s boss, President Donald Trump, has just been voted out of office.
Kang focused on finding solutions to the North Korean issue and the coronavirus epidemic, while Pompeo urged South Korea to join Trump's Indo-Pacific strategy aimed at containing China.
But that could now be dead in the water since Trump's successor, Joe Biden, has already offered to "meet China halfway" in a gesture widely seen as a step back from Trump's new cold war.
Pompeo refuses to accept Biden's win, claiming in a loyal last stand Tuesday that "there will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration."
None of Kang's predecessors had ever visited Washington to meet an outgoing official and the Foreign Ministry was at a loss to explain the purpose of the trip.
Some ministry officials said Kang would meet senior figures in Biden's team, but they are likely to have their hands full with the transition amid Trump's refusal to concede and cooperate with his successor.
Figures like Antony Blinken, who has been mentioned as the next secretary of state, also have to watch their step if they meet with foreign diplomats before they are confirmed in office.
Instead, Kang is only expected to meet researchers of a think tank affiliated with the Democratic Party.
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