By HYUNG-JIN KIM, HUIZHONG WU
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — After outraging China with a trip to Taiwan, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with South Korean political leaders in Seoul on Thursday, but feared a possible escalation of tensions in the region. declined to make a direct official comment on one Beijing-Taipei relationship.
House Speaker Pelosi, who visited Taiwan for the first time in 25 years, said in Taipei on Wednesday that US commitments to democracy in the autonomous islands and elsewhere “remain ironclad.” In response, China launched military exercises on Thursday in her six zones around Taiwan, including missile strike drills.
After visiting Taiwan, Pelosi and other members of her congressional delegation flew to South Korea Wednesday night as part of an Asia tour that included previous visits in Singapore and Malaysia.
She met with South Korean National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin Pyo and other lawmakers on Thursday. After her hour-long meeting, Pelosi spoke of the bilateral alliance she forged in blood during the Korean War from 1950 to 1953 and the legislative efforts to strengthen the relationship. but did not directly mention her visit to Taiwan or the Chinese protests.
At a joint press conference with Chairman Kim, Pelosi said, “I can tell you that what started years ago with urgency and security has become the warmest of friendships, relationships.” We want to advance security, economics and governance in the following ways.”
Neither Pelosi nor Kim responded to questions from journalists.
Kim said he shares concerns with Pelosi about the growing nuclear threat from North Korea. The two sides said they had agreed to support their governments’ push for denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula, based on both strong deterrence and diplomacy against North Korea.
Pelosi and her delegation then spoke on the phone with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol about alliances, foreign policy and other issues. Yoon is on vacation this week, but critics have accused him of deliberately avoiding a face-to-face meeting with Pelosi given South Korea’s relationship with China, its biggest trading partner. Yoon’s office said that when Pelosi’s side contacted his office about a possible meeting about two weeks ago, it was considering national interests and that Yoon’s vacation plans had already been set.
During the phone conversation, Pelosi and other members of her congressional delegation did not raise the Taiwan issue, nor did Yun, Yun’s office said.
In recent years, South Korea has struggled to find balance as tensions between the United States and China deepen. He took office in May, vowing to take a tougher stance.
Later on Thursday, Pelosi visited the border area with North Korea, which is jointly controlled by the U.S.-led United Nations Command and North Korea. The highest level American since visiting the Joint Security Area for a meeting with leader Kim Jong Un.
Situated within a 4-kilometer (2.5-mile) wide demilitarized zone (a buffer zone created at the end of the Korean War), the JSA has been the scene of bloodshed in the past and the site of many meetings. US presidents and other high-ranking officials frequently visit the JSA and other border areas to reaffirm their security commitments to South Korea.
Pelosi posted a few photos from the JSA on Twitter, writing:
National Security Advisor Kim Tae-hyo said Pelosi’s visit to the JSA would demonstrate a “strong deterrent against North Korea” by allies, Yoon said.
North Korea did not immediately comment on her visit to the JSA. On Wednesday, North Korea’s foreign ministry condemned the United States for her visit to Taiwan, saying, “The current situation is that the United States’ brazen interference in other countries’ internal affairs… is the root cause of its harassment of peace and security.” It clearly shows that,” he said. region. “
Thursday night, Pelosi flew to Japan for the final leg of her Asia tour.
China’s military exercises, which began Thursday and are expected to continue until Sunday, will involve the navy, air force and other sectors. Missile attacks on targets in the waters north and south of the island were included as echoes of the last large-scale Chinese military exercises aimed at intimidating Taiwan’s leaders and voters in 1995 and 1996. increase.
China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency said the exercises were joint operations focused on “blockades, attacking maritime targets, attacking ground targets, and airspace control.”
Taiwan remains on high alert and conducts civil defense exercises, while the United States has numerous naval assets in the region. Taiwan’s defense ministry called China’s drills “an irrational move that seeks to change the status quo and undermine regional peace and stability.”
China views Taiwan as a breakaway province that can be annexed by force if necessary. Any visit to Taiwan by a foreign public official shall be deemed an acknowledgment of Taiwan’s sovereignty.
“Today, the world faces a choice between democracy and tyranny,” Pelosi said Wednesday in a brief speech at a meeting with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen. “The United States’ determination to maintain democracy here in Taiwan and around the world remains steadfast.”
The Biden administration and Pelosi have said the US remains committed to the “one China policy,” which recognizes Beijing as China’s only legitimate government, but maintains unofficial ties with Taipei. The administration was discouraged but did not prevent Pelosi’s visit.
In Taiwan, Pelosi noted that congressional support for Taiwan is bipartisan and praised Taiwan’s democracy. “Congress is committed to Taiwan’s security so that it can defend itself in the future.”
“Taiwan will not back down in the face of a deliberately heightened military threat,” Tsai said in a meeting with Pelosi.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that U.S. officials “don’t believe we’re on the brink right now, and we all talk about the brink.” There is absolutely no reason,” he said.
On Thursday, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations called for calm in the Taiwan Strait, which separates mainland China from Taiwan, and urged to avoid any “provocative actions”. ASEAN foreign ministers meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia for the regional forum said the situation would “destabilize the region and ultimately lead to miscalculations, serious confrontations, outright conflicts and unpredictable outcomes between great powers.” It could lead to ,” he said.
Pelosi’s focus has always been the same, she said, dating back to her visit to Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1991, when she and other lawmakers followed two years after a bloody military crackdown on protesters in the square. The visit was also about human rights and what she called dangerous technology transfers to “rogue states.”
China and Taiwan, which split in 1949 after the civil war, have no official ties, but they do have billion-dollar business ties.
Wu reported from Taipei, Taiwan. Associated Press writer David Rising in Phnom Penh, Cambodia contributed to this report.
In South Korea, Pelosi Avoids Public Comment on Taiwan, China – Daily Local
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