US climate envoy John Kerry has met with South Korea’s foreign minister in Seoul for talks ahead of a virtual climate summit of world leaders called by President Joe Biden for next week.
Kerry arrived in South Korea after a four-day visit to China where he held closed-door meetings with senior Chinese officials in Shanghai.
While Kerry’s discussions with South Korea’s Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong were focused on Biden’s climate meeting and another video summit on environmental issues that South Korea will host in May, Chung also conveyed Seoul’s “serious concerns” over Japanese government plans to start releasing treated radioactive water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea in two years.
Chung also requested US help for South Korea’s efforts to secure more coronavirus vaccines as it wrestles with a slow vaccine rollout and a steady rise in infections, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said. The ministry didn’t release any specific comments made by Kerry during the meeting.
Chung and Kerry have agreed that the countries should cooperate to create “mutual synergy” between the virtual summits hosted by each country in the coming weeks, which would help set up the UN Climate Change Conference scheduled to be held in Scotland in November, the ministry said in a statement.
Arriving for a dinner meeting at Chung’s official residence in Seoul, a mask-wearing Kerry bumped forearms with Chung and wrote in a guestbook saying: “Thank you so much for Korea’s leadership on the climate crisis.”
Kerry’s visit to South Korea comes at a time when the Biden administration is also stepping up efforts to coordinate action with South Korea and Japan to cope with China’s growing influence and North Korea’s nuclear threat.
Three-way cooperation between Washington, Seoul and Tokyo had declined during the Trump administration, as the Asian US allies feuded over wartime history, trade and military issues that sank their relations to post-war lows.