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Seoul, Washington, Tokyo to keep close tabs on Putin's visit to NK

June 14, 2024 - 23:08 By Son Ji-hyoung
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday. (AP-Yonhap)

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan -- South Korea, the United States and Japan will join forces to analyze the process and the outcome of Russian President Vladimir Putin's upcoming visit to North Korea for the first time in 24 years.

According to an official of the presidential office who spoke on condition of anonymity, South Korea will "together analyze the process and the outcome" of Putin's visit to Pyongyang to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, in line with its "close and frequent communication with the US and Japan over regional security issues (in East Asia)."

The official added that Seoul will "continue to closely examine countermeasures to protect our own rights and interests to ensure that security is not compromised and to ensure regional peace among allies."

The official declined to comment on a news report in South Korea saying that Russian envoys had arrived in Pyongyang Thursday for working-level talks before Putin's visit.

The remarks were made during a press briefing of President Yoon Suk Yeol's secretaries as Yoon is now on a state visit to Uzbekistan.

President Yoon Suk Yeo speaks during a summit with Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on Friday. (Pool photo via Yonhap)

Kim Tae-hyo, first deputy director of the National Security Office, said South Korea will open a new horizon in its diplomacy next year through pursuing a multilateral dialogue of South Korea and Central Asian countries.

No country had held a multilateral summit with Central Asian nations until China hosted one in May 2023. The US hosted on its own in September last year. South Korea is expected to become the third country to follow the world's superpowers in doing so, according to Kim.

Speaking of Yoon's bilateral summit Friday in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Park Chun-sup, senior presidential secretary for economic affairs, said a pact on tariff concessions between Seoul and Tashkent Friday will not only help boost exports of South Korean automobile industry-related goods and foods like instant ramyeon, but it will also support Uzbekistan's bid to join the World Trade Organization. Uzbekistan must sign bilateral trade pacts with 31 WTO trading partners -- of which South Korea is one -- in order to qualify for membership, according to Park.

Moreover, a 270 million won ($195.7 million) deal to sell six of South Korea domestically-developed high-speed trains to Uzbekistan was signed during Friday's summit. Park Sang-woo, South Korea's minister of land, infrastructure and transport, said South Korea's high-speed train, the KTX Eum model, boasts a larger passenger capacity and has a distributed power train design, which is more power-efficient than a train of conventional design with an engine in one car at one end.

Park added these factors allowed a group of train makers led by South Korean heavy industry firm Hyundai Rotem to gain an upper edge over Spanish train maker Talgo.

Park also said the export deal "holds significance," given that the deal will allow South Korea to vie for high-speed train deals in other countries, including in Morocco and Poland.