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Blinken, Austin arrive in Seoul for talks with S. Korean counterparts Updated: 2021-03-17 14:15:52 KST

For the first time in about 11 years, the U.S. secretaries of state and defense are both in Seoul for talks with their South Korean counterparts.
The likely topics of discussion include the ROK-US alliance and North Korea issues.
For more, we have our foreign ministry correspondent Yoon Jung-min joining us live.
Jung-min, what have you heard there so far?

Right Devin.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin landed at Osan Air Base a few hours ago.
They are the first Cabinet-level officials to visit Seoul since President Biden took office.
In about at hour or so, Blinken will be meeting with his South Korean counterpart Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong.
We also hear that Austin is now meeting his own South Korean counterpart, Defense Minister Suh Wook.

Tomorrow, the South Korean and American officials will hold the first "two plus two" meeting since 2016.
It's first time in 11 years for these talks be held in Seoul the more recent ones having been held in Washington.
After the meeting, they're going to attend the signing of the new Special Measures Agreement, which governs the allies' defense cost sharing.
They will also announce a joint statement and hold a press conference.

What's on the agenda for the foreign and defense chiefs this afternoon?

Seoul's foreign ministry says the agenda mainly covers Korean Peninsula affairs, the bilateral alliance and regional and global issues.
Details are yet to be given, but it's likely that the officials will discuss the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the new U.S. policy on North Korea, which is currently under review.
Eyes are on whether we will be hearing from Blinken himself on policy toward Pyeongyang.

The agenda could also include the transfer of the wartime operational control from Washington to Seoul, as well as the allies' joint readiness posture.
Also on the agenda may include 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 for talks with their respective counterparts.
Now, just to remind you
Blinken and Austin chose Seoul and Tokyo as their first destinations overseas.
Observers say it really shows that the Biden administration is focusing on and prioritizing Asia in its foreign policy and national security policy.

I'll have more details in our later newscasts.
Back to you, Devin.
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