United States Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel to Visit South Korea

kpride, March 14, 2015, 10:30 a.m.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel plans to visit South Korea next week to discuss issues of mutual concern and to reaffirm a strong alliance, Seoul's foreign ministry said Saturday.

Russel is scheduled to arrive here on Monday for a two-day visit during which he will meet with senior officials here including Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Kyung-soo and First Vice Foreign Minister Cho Tai-yong, the ministry said in a statement.  The primary purpose of his visit "is to reaffirm the staunch South Korea-U.S. alliance, and the two sides are expected to discuss ways to further develop bilateral relations," it added.

In a brief statement, the U.S. Department of State said, "While in Seoul, Assistant Secretary Russel will meet with Ambassador Lippert and U.S. Embassy staff ... and will meet with senior South Korean government officials to discuss a range of issues central to our strong alliance and growing global partnership."

On the table "would be South Korea's possible joining of China's move to set up the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the possible deployment of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery on Korean soil," a foreign ministry official said on condition of anonymity.  They are major pending issues between South Korea and the U.S.

China is seeking to establish the AIIB which is to be used to finance massive development projects in Asia. It is widely seen as China's counterbalance to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), led by the U.S. and Japan.  Whether to bring THAAD to South Korea has been one of the hottest issues as it is seen by critics as part of a broader U.S. attempt to get the Asian ally to join its air defense system.

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