Kurt Campbell, deputy assistant to the president and National Security Council (NSC) coordinator for the Indo-Pacific, stressed that the United States is hoping for further improvements in Seoul-Tokyo relations down the road.
“I do want to commend the courage of President Yoon in his decision to take some of these steps and to go to Japan and to make some unilateral steps,” the NSC official said in a seminar hosted by the Center for a New American Security, a Washington-based think tank.
Yoon visited Tokyo earlier this month for a summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, becoming the first South Korean president in 12 years to visit Japan for a bilateral summit.
Yoon’s trip to Japan also followed historic steps taken by Seoul to resolve thorny historical issues stemming from Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule of Korea.
“You don’t see that kind of courage often on the global stage and it has to be acknowledged,” Campbell insisted.
The NSC official stressed the importance of cooperation between Seoul and Tokyo as Washington seeks to strengthen and expand trilateral cooperation between the United States and its two Asian allies.
“I think there are many purposes behind this,” he said of the need for trilateral cooperation.
“One is basically just strong deterrence and solidarity in the face of increasing North Korean provocations. I think that’s the central purpose, but also increasingly to diversify beyond that, to talk about technology standards, to talk about regional issues and challenges and to see what’s possible with respect to trilateral engagement,” added Campbell.
He expressed hope for further enhancements in Seoul-Tokyo relations, while noting the United Statess. has long been “encouraging” them to do so from the sidelines.
“We are hoping, however, that we will see even more from both capitals going forward. And again, as I said [···] we will be engaged accordingly,” said Campbell.