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Yoon Suk-yeol speaks with Nancy Pelosi but only on the phone

President Yoon Suk-yeol and U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi affirmed their commitment to the Korea-U.S. alliance — on a phone call.

Although Pelosi was welcomed on all previous stops of an Indo-Pacific tour by presidents or prime ministers – in Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan – Seoul’s presidential office decided not to schedule a meeting for Pelosi while she was in Seoul on Wednesday and Thursday, saying Yoon was on holiday.

Yoon is on holiday this week, although plans to go out of Seoul were cancelled Monday because of plummeting approval ratings. So he was in Seoul when Pelosi was.

In the phone call, Yoon said he highly appreciated Pelosi’s “long-term commitment to the promotion of liberal democracy and human rights,” and asked for her continued support for the development of a global comprehensive strategic alliance between Korea and the United States, according to his office.

Pelosi was quoted as stressing the importance of the U.S.-Korea alliance as “a key pillar for regional peace and stability.”

After criticism of Yoon from some lawmakers for not meeting Pelosi, Choi Young-bum, the senior presidential secretary for public relations, said Thursday that Yoon’s unavailability for an in-person meeting due to his holiday schedule was “already explained” to the American delegation, and the delegation “fully understood.”

Taiwan, a touchy issue with China, is a topic that the Korean government rarely makes public comments about.

But the muted welcome given to Pelosi led to a heated debate between political parties in Korea on whether Seoul had committed a diplomatic gaffe.

Choi, the presidential secretary, also said Thursday that “the American [delegation] said there was no need for the Assembly to send anyone because their landing time would be quite late at night.”

Pelosi met with Speaker Kim Jin-pyo at the National Assembly in Yeouido, western Seoul, on Thursday.

The two discussed the security alliance and reaffirmed their commitment to the denuclearization of North Korea.

“Both sides expressed their concerns about the dire situation and the heightened threats by North Korea,” Kim said in a joint press meeting following their meeting. “We are committed to achieving tangible denuclearization of North Korea and peace on the Korean Peninsula through international cooperation and diplomatic dialogue.”

Pelosi stressed the values Washington and Seoul share when it comes to addressing regional issues in addition to North Korea.

“When we come and travel as a delegation, our three known pillars are security, economics and governance,” Pelosi said. “And [on] all three of those areas the U.S.-South Korea relationship is very strong.”

Pelosi and her delegation visited the Joint Security Area of the demilitarized zone on Thursday afternoon. They were to travel to Tokyo Thursday evening.

She may be meeting with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, according to Japanese media outlets including NHK.

soa natural?

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