Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se refuted allegations Wednesday that the United States has increased pressure on South Korea to clarify its stance on the territorial dispute in the South China Sea.
Last week, U.S. President Barack Obama said in a joint press conference following summit talks with President Park Geun-hye that Washington expects Seoul to speak out if China fails to abide by international norms and rules. The remarks were interpreted in Seoul as a reference to the dispute over China’s land reclamation projects in the South China Sea.
“The South China Sea issue does not simply have implications for the interests of other East Asian countries, but it also has implications for South Korea’s economic and security interests,” Yun said during a forum on South Korea’s long-term diplomatic strategy. “That is why we have clearly expressed our position on this issue over the past years.”
He cited his remarks during a regional foreign ministerial meeting in Malaysia in August, saying he stressed the importance of the freedom of navigation and abidance by international regulations.
“The U.S. government, at various levels following the meeting, said our remarks during the meeting would significantly help handle the South China Sea issue going forward,” Yun said. “The U.S. made such an assessment during the president’s visit to the U.S. as well.”