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Expert's take on Seoul, Washington 2+2 meeting Updated: 2021-03-18 14:56:44 KST

Policy coordination on North Korea was the top agenda for the two-plus-two meeting held by diplomatic and security chiefs of South Korea and the U.S.
It served as an opportunity to renew their pledge to make North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs their top priority and to resolve the matter with a fully coordinated strategy.
At the close of the meeting, Seoul and Washington adopted a joint statement laying out the future direction of their alliance as well.

For more, we're joined by SONG Se-ryun, Professor at Kyung Hee University via phone.

What was your overall assessment of the joint statement as well as the joint press conference after the two-plus-two talks? What stood out for you?

North Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui's remarks released today some have interpreted them as saying the regime is trying to get across the message that it actually wants talks with Washington. Do you agree?

Another controversy that was cleared up was regarding Foreign Minister Chung and his answer to a reporters' question during the press briefing on the issue of pursuing the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula versus North Korea.
How did you view this?

There's been interesting headlines in the South Korean media reading "Biden's 'strategic patience' meets Kim Jong-un's 'strategic patience'".
Pyeongyang and Washington are already using the media to get their message across, the conditions for denuclearization talks delivered and that the bargaining for talks has been initiated.
And do you agree with me that today was no exception?

Given what we know about the two-plus-two meetings and statements released by the top U.S. officials in Seoul so far what can we expect of the Biden administration's policy towards the North which is expected to be finalized in the coming weeks?
What kind of "pressure measures" and "diplomatic paths" are to be included?

Though the joint statement was written meticulously in diplomatic language what stood out for me was that there was no mention of China presumably because of Seoul.
But in the joint press conference, Blinken did mention China directly implying that Washington is encouraging more from Seoul to join its anti-China alliance led by Washington in the Indo-Pacific region.
Do you think the two allies will be working more on coordinating their different stance regarding China in the future?

Alright. Professor

For more on defense and security related talks held today we're joined by Yeo Suk-joo, Former South Korea Deputy Minister for National Defense Policy in the studio.

***** What's the meaning of the signing the provisional deal of the defense cost-sharing of the two allies which was held today?

Circumstances in carrying out South Korea-U.S. joint military exercises and the timeline for the envisioned OPCON transfer from Washington to Seoul were pointed out during the joint press briefing today.
Do you think the differences between the two allies regarding these issues have been fully resolved?

Before concluding the defense cost-sharing deal, there were a number of issues regarding it including speculation that the U.S. might cut down the number of troops who are assigned to the U.S. Forces Korea on a rotational basis of nine months affecting up to 65-hundred troops.
Do you think this issue was resolved this time?

Following the removal of U.S. restrictions on payload weight for South Korea's ballistic missiles in 2017, the Hyunmoo-four has been developed by South Korean developers capable of carrying a warhead of up to two tons.
Today, a similar lifting of Washington's restrictions was speculated to have been discussed so that Seoul could develop nuclear-powered submarines.
Given the responses released today, how far do you think the two sides have agreed upon on the matter?

Alright. Former Deputy Minister Yeo Suk-joo thanks for sharing your insights tonight. We appreciate it.

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