FM Cho may hold talks with U.S., Japanese counterparts at G20 gathering

February 19, 2024

Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul could hold separate bilateral talks with his U.S. and Japanese counterparts, and also meet trilaterally, on the margins of the foreign ministers’ meeting of the Group of 20 (G20) countries in Brazil this week.

Talks are under way with the United States and Japan to arrange Cho’s meetings with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa during the gathering in Rio de Janeiro set for Wednesday through Thursday (Brazil time), officials familiar with the matter said Monday.

Cho is scheduled to depart for Brazil late Monday night (Seoul time).

If realized, it will mark the first such one-on-one talks with Blinken and Kamikawa, and also the first trilateral meeting among the top diplomats of the three countries since Cho took office last month.

Cho has spoken with each counterpart separately over the phone.

The potential talks will come as North Korea has signaled an openness about mending ties with Japan and a possible visit to Pyongyang by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida if Tokyo agrees to certain conditions, such as not raising the issue of Japanese abductees.

While refusing to accept the North’s demands, Japan said it is taking heed of the North’s statement.

South Korea has said any contact between Tokyo and Pyongyang should be made in a way that would “help promote the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula.”

At the envisioned three-way talks, the top diplomats could also discuss efforts to firm up the trilateral security cooperation, a key product of the landmark Camp David summit of the leaders of the three countries in August last year.

Albeit not formally, Cho could also have an encounter with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, who is also expected to be present at the multilateral gathering.

Bilateral relations between South Korea and Russia have been strained amid Moscow’s suspected expanding military cooperation with Pyongyang.