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U.S. State, Defense Secretaries to visit Seoul on Wednesday, first time since Biden took office Updated: 2021-03-17 10:03:58 KST

Due in Seoul on Wednesday are U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, the first Cabinet-level officials to visit since President Biden took office.
Blinken is expected to stay for two days and Austin for three days.
On the first day, they'll be meeting with their respective South Korean counterparts Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong and Defense Minister Suh Wook.
On Thursday, the South Korean and American officials will hold the first "two plus two" meeting since 2016 , and they'll attend the signing of the new Special Measures Agreement, which governs the allies' defense cost sharing, and hold a press conference.

"The fact that both the Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense are visiting South Korea together at the start of the Biden administration, and are holding the first two-plus-two meeting in five years, reflects the Biden administration's strong determination and its high regard for the South Korea-U.S. alliance."

Seoul's foreign ministry says the agenda mainly covers Korean Peninsula affairs, the bilateral alliance and regional and global issues.
Details were not given, but it's likely that the officials will discuss the denuclearization of North Korea and the new U.S. policy on North Korea, which is currently under review.
The agenda could also include the transfer of the wartime operational control from Washington to Seoul, as well as cooperation between Seoul, Washington and Tokyo, possibly against the rise of China.
Other issues include the fight against COVID-19 and climate change.

Before coming to Seoul, the U.S. officials were in Tokyo on Tuesday for talks with their respective counterparts, foreign minister Toshimitsu Motegi and defense minister Nobuo Kishi.
The U.S. and Japan reaffirmed the importance of trilateral cooperation with Seoul for the complete denuclearization of North Korea.

"Observers say that by choosing Seoul and Tokyo as the first destinations, these official visits show the Biden administration is prioritizing Asia in its foreign policy and national security policy.
Yoon Jung-min, Arirang News."
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