In a first face-to-face meeting on Wednesday with South Korea's Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong since President Biden took office, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was vocal about human rights issues in China and North Korea.
"China is using coercion and aggression to systematically erode the autonomy in Hong Kong, undercut democracy in Taiwan, abuse human rights in Xinjiang and Tibet. And the authoritarian regime in North Korea continues to commit systemic and widespread abuses against its own people."
In the meantime, Seoul's Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong emphasized the strong Seoul-Washington alliance, on North Korea and other issues.
"We hope to hold a South Korea-U.S. summit in the near future and continue with the momentum for the prosperity of our bilateral relationship. I also hope that we can find a firm settlement with the Korean Peace Process through these talks."
Blinken responded that the bilateral alliance is a "linchpin for peace, security and prosperity" for the Indo-Pacific region and the world.
He called the alliance "unwavering" and "ironclad", while also calling for trilateral cooperation with Japan on North Korea.
"We will continue to work together with the ROK and other allies and partners including Japan toward denuclearization of the DPRK. We are standing together in support of our shared values. We believe in democracy."
The U.S.' top diplomat also offered his condolences to the families of the victims and the Korean community as a whole following the fatal shootings in Atlanta on Tuesday, local time.
Seoul's foreign ministry added that the two chiefs also agreed to cooperate on the New Southern Policy, COVID-19 and climate change.
On Thursday, foreign ministers and defense chiefs from Seoul and Washington will hold the first "two plus two" meeting since 2016.
After the meeting, they will attend the signing of the new Special Measures Agreement, announce a joint statement and hold a press conference.
Yoon Jung-min, Arirang News.