South Korean president skips in-person meeting with Pelosi for staycation

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:


  • South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol did not meet House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in person during her visit to the nation on Thursday.
  • Yoon was reportedly on a staycation, prompting speculation that his absence was planned to avoid further antagonizing China.
  • Added to the controversy was a photo showing the absence of Seoul officials welcoming Pelosi’s delegation when they arrived on Wednesday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrapped up her two-day visit to Seoul on Thursday, but her non-in-person meeting with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has prompted controversy among residents.

Kim Jin-pyo, the South Korean speaker of the National Assembly, met with her and agreed to support both governments’ efforts to achieve denuclearization and peace despite strong deterrence from North Korea.

Yoon was on a summer vacation in Seoul, the nation’s capital, during Pelosi’s official visit. He was highly criticized for opting not to cut his holiday short.

Initially, Yoon’s office told reporters that the meeting between Yoon and Pelosi was not arranged because of his scheduled summer vacation. Then, the office said it was coordinating with Pelosi’s team to arrange a meeting. The announcement was reversed again, saying there was no coordination between the two offices.

Although Yoon has been spending his time off at his Seoul home, his office confirmed Thursday that the two would have a phone call and not an in-person meeting. The call between the two lasted 40 minutes.

Pelosi met with the leaders of Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan before she landed in South Korea. On Friday, she is expected to have a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

Choi Young-bum, the senior presidential secretary for public relations, said the decision not to have an in-person meeting with Pelosi was made based on “the national interest.” 

However, no answer was given when reporters pressed on what “the national interest” referred to in this situation.

Added to the controversy was a photo showing the absence of Seoul officials welcoming Pelosi’s delegation when they arrived at Osan Air Base on Wednesday.

Choi said that Kim was the one who should have been responsible for holding a welcoming ceremony. He also claimed that Pelosi’s office turned down a ceremony due to their late-night arrival on Wednesday.

Pelosi’s office has not yet issued a statement over the controversies about the South Korean president. She is the first sitting speaker to visit South Korea since Dennis Hastert visited Seoul in 2002.

Source: New York Post

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