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Outcome of S. Korea, US, Japan summit represents strong commitment of equal, powerful countries: Campbell

Aug. 30, 2023 - 09:20 By Yonhap
National Security Council Coordinator for Indo-Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell is seen speaking at a seminar hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington on Aug. 20. (Yonhap)

The outcome of the historic trilateral summit held at Camp David earlier this month represents the strong commitment of three equal and powerful countries that are focused on promoting peace and security throughout their shared region, a senior White House official said Tuesday.

Kurt Campbell, National Security Council coordinator for Indo-Pacific affairs, also highlighted the countries' commitment to institutionalize their three-way cooperation.

"I thought what was on display in Camp David is a sense of three equal, powerful, committed, determined nations meeting on equal terms," Campbell said of the Aug. 18 Camp David summit between South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

"I have that sense ... more than I have ever had in the past that these are no longer lesser-weaker, stronger-older brother relationships. These are relationships in which each country takes responsibility for consultation," he added while speaking at a forum hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank based in Washington.

The leaders had produced three key documents in their first standalone trilateral summit -- 'Spirit of Camp David,' 'Camp David Principles' and 'Commitment to Consult' -- that call for trilateral cooperation in various areas, including security, technology and supply chains.

"I think what the statement and the meetings underscore is a general proposition that a challenge to the security of any one of the countries affects the security of all of them," said Campbell.

South Korean Ambassador to the United States Cho Hyun-dong highlighted the economic significance of the trilateral summit and its outcome, noting the three countries together accounted for 31 percent of the global gross domestic product in 2022.

"We three countries provide almost 80 percent of semiconductor manufacturing equipment to the world market. And Korea, Japan companies, companies from the two countries will supply, I think, almost 90 percent of batteries which will be used in the United States next year," Cho told the forum.

"So, deeper cooperation of the countries will facilitate more resilient and safer global supply chain, which is, I think, a benefit for all," added the South Korean diplomat.

Campbell said the most important outcome of the summit was an agreement to institutionalize three-way cooperation.

"The three leaders meeting every year, investing in a very high-tech hotline that we will utilize, the fact that we will have our national security advisers or secretaries of defense or secretaries of state meeting regularly, we believe, will help propel this relationship forward," he told the forum.

Campbell noted the trilateral cooperation cannot be future-proof when asked how the countries can ensure future cooperation, given the historical differences between South Korea and Japan that have long been a source of discord between the neighboring countries.

"Nothing can be future proofed. Nothing can be. But I will also just underscore that there are examples of countries that faced complex histories that have managed to, through a variety of reasons and mechanisms, managed to create a new relationship with a new future." he said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has strongly denounced the trilateral summit of Yoon, Biden and Kishida, calling them " gang leaders" and accusing them of building what he called an "Asian version" of North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

"I do not believe, fundamentally, that what's going on in Asia has really much to do with NATO," said Campbell, noting that the United States has combined 150 years of bilateral alliance relations with South Korea and Japan.

"Our goal is to follow that unique path and to recognize that it will follow its own timing and pattern of consultation and engagement," he added. "Personally, I would discourage comparisons with NATO."

When asked about the possible resumption of dialogue with North Korea following the country's reported reopening of its borders, Cho said it was unlikely for the time being.

"We are witnessing a continued provocation and continued North Korea's commitment to launching missiles," the South Korean ambassador said. "And so, probably the opportunity for reopening dialogue with North Korea is not likely for the time being."

"I'd just like to make clear to North Korea. As President Yoon said, the continued provocation, continued violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions by North Korea will only strengthen the trilateral security cooperation among the three countries," added Cho. (Yonhap)