September 30, 2022 09:33
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris met with President Yoon Suk-yeol on Thursday and visited the inter-Korean border before heading back to Washington.
"In the North, we see a brutal dictatorship, rampant human rights violations and an unlawful weapons program that threatens peace and stability," Harris said. "And we are reminded that the alliance between the United States and [South] Korea stands ready to address any contingency."
Arriving at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province at around 10 a.m., Harris spent just eight hours in South Korea. In her meeting with Yoon, she "condemned [North Korea's] provocative nuclear rhetoric and ballistic missile launches," according to a White House statement. "They discussed our response to potential future provocations, including through trilateral cooperation with Japan," it added.
In a warning to China, Harris also stressed that efforts to maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait are an "essential element of a free and open Indo-Pacific."
In the 85-minute meeting at the presidential office in Yongsan, Harris also discussed the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act, which scraps tax credits for Korean-made electric cars even though Korean carmakers have pledged massive investments in America.
"I hope the two sides cooperate closely to reach a satisfactory agreement based on the spirit of the [South] Korea-U.S. free trade agreement," Yoon said according to a presidential spokesman.
Harris "underscored that she understood [South Korea's] concerns" and "pledged to continue to consult as the law is implemented," according to the White House.
Harris also met with a group of "groundbreaking women leaders" at the U.S. ambassador's residence in Seoul, including figures skating star Kim Yu-na, Naver's young CEO Choi Soo-yeon and Oscar winner Youn Yuh-jung.
"I do strongly believe that when women succeed, all of society succeeds," Harris said. "If we want to strengthen democracy, we must pay attention to gender equity and do the good and important work of lifting up the status of women in every way."
At the heavily fortified border later in the day, Harris was briefed by U.S. troops. "I cannot state enough that the commitment of the U.S. to the defense of [South] Korea is ironclad, and that we will do everything in our power to ensure that it has meaning in every way the words suggest," Harris said. "The United States and the world seek a stable and peaceful Korean Peninsula where [North Korea] is no longer a threat."
But no sooner had she left than North Korea fired two short-range missiles into the East Sea, its third missile provocation in five days.
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