By Kang Seung-woo
Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha flew to the German city of Munich, Thursday, to participate in a security forum, raising expectations that she may meet with her U.S. and Japanese counterparts to discuss pending issues.
|Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha walks through Incheon International Airport, Thursday, before leaving for Germany to attend the Munich Security Conference. / Yonhap|
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kang will attend a main panel discussion on multilateralism and speak of Korea's perspectives and proposals on upholding this, a value challenged by rising nationalism and trade protectionism. It is the first time for a Korean foreign minister to address the security conference's main session as a panelist.
Given that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi will also travel to Germany, Kang may talk with them on the sidelines of the security conference. They held a meeting in San Francisco last month to discuss North Korea's nuclear issues and other matters.
"Minister Kang plans to hold multiple bilateral talks with other countries' counterparts," Foreign Ministry spokesman Kim In-chul said.
According to the ministry, Seoul and Washington are still in consultations to arrange a meeting between Kang and Pompeo.
If they meet in Munich, the government's drive to expand inter-Korean cooperation and exchanges, and the cost-sharing deal for stationing the U.S. Forces Korea are likely to be high on the agenda.
President Moon Jae-in proposed the idea of individual tourism by South Koreans to the North in a New Year press conference, Jan. 14, to revive the momentum for dialogue between the North and the United States.
Earlier this week, Alex Wong, U.S. deputy special representative for North Korea, visited Seoul to hold a working group meeting with his South Korean counterpart to coordinate policy on the North.
"If there is a chance, I have many pending issues to discuss with Pompeo such as the Special Measures Agreement (SMA) negotiations," Kang told reporters at Incheon International Airport before departing for Munich.
Regarding an envisaged meeting with Motegi, they are expected to discuss efforts to address their countries' protracted row over Japan's wartime forced labor and export curbs.
In response to the Japanese government's trade restrictions on Korea, Kang warned last week that it is still a viable option for Korea to terminate the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) unless Tokyo puts an end to its export controls. GSOMIA is an information-sharing accord with Japan and Seoul temporarily delayed the expiry of the security arrangement in November.
The top diplomats of South Korea, Japan and the U.S. could also hold a trilateral meeting as well.