U.S. Secretary of State Blinken Arrives in South Korea for Key Talks

SEOUL - U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in South Korea late Wednesday for important discussions on North Korea, alliance dynamics, and regional issues, amid increasing concerns about North Korea's growing military collaboration with Russia.

According to Yonhap News Agency, Blinken landed at the U.S. Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, located 60 kilometers south of Seoul, following his attendance at the Group of Seven (G7) foreign ministerial meeting in Tokyo. This visit marks his first trip to Seoul since President Yoon Suk Yeol's administration began in May 2022 and is his first visit in over two and a half years since his last attendance at a "two plus two" meeting of foreign and defense chiefs.

On Thursday, Blinken is scheduled to engage in bilateral talks with South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin and meet with top security officials. He is also expected to pay a courtesy call on President Yoon. His visit is particularly timely as concerns grow over Pyongyang's advanced preparations for a third attempt to launch a military spy satellite, following unsuccessful attempts in May and August.

The U.S. has expressed concerns over Russia's alleged technical support to North Korea for these launch tests, part of an arms deal between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Additionally, the U.S. disclosed last month that North Korea has provided a significant amount of military equipment and munitions to support Russia in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Blinken's discussions in Seoul are anticipated to cover strategies to counter the expanding military cooperation between North Korea and Russia and address the persistent nuclear and missile threats from Pyongyang. The talks are also expected to emphasize the U.S.'s commitment to defending South Korea against security threats from the North and to underline the U.S.'s strategic focus on the Indo-Pacific region.

Furthermore, Blinken's visit is set to cover China-related issues in light of the upcoming summit between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. The ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict will also be a topic of discussion, with the U.S. focusing on diplomatic efforts to prevent the war's escalation and facilitate humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Before arriving in Asia, Blinken had an extensive Middle East trip, advocating for these objectives. After his engagements in Seoul, he will proceed to India, concluding his diplomatic tour in Asia.

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