In South Korea, Pelosi refrains from publicly commenting on Taiwan and China

SEOUL, South Korea — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who met with South Korean political leaders in Seoul on Thursday, refrained from speaking directly on ties with Beijing and Taipei that could further escalate regional tensions after angering China. public comments.

Pelosi, the first House speaker to visit Taiwan in 25 years, said in Taipei on Wednesday that the United States’ commitment to democracy in Taiwan and elsewhere “remains unwavering.” In response, China on Thursday began conducting military exercises including missile strike training in six areas around Taiwan in what could be the largest such drills since the mid-1990s.

After visiting Taiwan, Pelosi and the rest of her congressional delegation flew to South Korea — a key U.S. ally with about 28,500 U.S. troops — on Wednesday night as part of a trip to Asia that included an early Stopovers in Singapore and Malaysia for a while.

On Thursday, she met South Korea’s National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin-pyo and other lawmakers. After that hour-long meeting, Pelosi spoke about the bilateral alliances bloody forged during the 1950-53 Korean War and legislative efforts to strengthen ties, but made no direct reference to her Taiwan visit or the protests in China. Activity.

“We also come to say to you that friendships that started many years ago with urgency and security have become the warmest friendships,” Pelosi said at a joint news conference with Kim. “We want to advance security in an inter-parliamentary approach. , economics and governance.”

Neither Pelosi nor Kim took questions from reporters.

Kim said he and Pelosi were both concerned about North Korea’s growing nuclear threat. He said the two countries agreed to support the two governments in pushing for denuclearization and peace on the Korean peninsula on the basis of strong deterrence and diplomacy against North Korea.

Pelosi and her delegation later had a phone call with South Korean President Yoon Si-yeol to discuss alliances, foreign policy and more. Yoon is on vacation this week, but critics have accused him of deliberately avoiding a face-to-face meeting with Pelosi because of his relationship with China, South Korea’s biggest trading partner. Yin’s office said it had reviewed the national interest.

In the phone conversation, Pelosi and other members of her congressional delegation did not bring up the Taiwan issue, and Yin did not bring it up, Yin’s office said.

In recent years, South Korea has struggled to strike a balance between the U.S. and China as competition between China and the U.S. has deepened. Yoon, a conservative who took office in May, vowed to strengthen South Korea’s military alliance with the United States and take a tougher stance against North Korean provocations.

Later on Thursday, Pelosi will visit the border area with North Korea that is jointly controlled by the U.S.-led United Nations Command and North Korea, South Korean officials said. If that visit happens, Pelosi would be the highest-ranking American to travel to the Joint Security Area since then-President Donald Trump visited the area in 2019 to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Yoon said Pelosi’s visit to JSA would demonstrate the ally’s “strong deterrent against North Korea,” said Kim Tae-hyo, the vice president’s national security adviser.

The JSA sits within the 2.5-mile-wide Demilitarized Zone, a buffer zone created at the end of the Korean War, the site of past bloodshed and the site of numerous talks. The U.S. president and other senior officials regularly travel to the JSA and other border areas to reaffirm their security commitments to South Korea.

Any criticism of North Korea by Pelosi is sure to draw backlash. On Wednesday, North Korea’s foreign ministry lashed out at the United States over her trip to Taiwan, saying “the current situation clearly shows that the U.S. grossly interferes in other countries’ internal affairs … (is) the root cause of harassment of peace and security in the region.”

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