South Korean president skips in-person meeting with Pelosi, sparking controversy
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SEOUL, South Korea – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ended his two-day visit to Seoul on Thursday, but his in-person meeting with the president has sparked controversy among South Koreans.
Pelosi is the first sitting speaker to visit South Korea since Dennis Hastert visited Seoul in 2002. He met with his counterpart, Kim Jin-pyo, Speaker of the National Assembly, and agreed to support the two governments’ efforts to achieve denuclearization and peace in the peninsula under a strong deterrent against the North. korea
However, public criticism has grown over South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, who skipped an in-person meeting with Pelosi because he was on summer vacation in his country’s capital, Seoul.
Despite his official visit to Seoul, South Korea’s presidential office gave several answers about the meeting with Pelosi.
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The president’s office initially told reporters that the meeting between Yoon and Pelosi was not arranged because of Yoon’s scheduled summer vacation. He then suddenly said he was coordinating with Pelosi’s office to set up a meeting, but then reversed his announcement again, saying there was no coordination between the two offices.
Although Yoon has been staying at his home in Seoul, his office finally confirmed on Thursday that the two would have a phone call and not a face-to-face meeting. The call between the two lasted 40 minutes.
Ahead of the trip, he met with the leaders of Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan before arriving in Seoul. He is also expected to have a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Friday.
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Choi Young-bum, the senior presidential press secretary, said the decision not to have a meeting with Pelosi was made based on “the national interest.”
However, the official declined to answer further questions from reporters about what “national interest” meant in this situation.
The controversy was compounded when Pelosi’s delegation arrived at Osan Air Base on Wednesday, where a photo showed the absence of Seoul officials welcoming her and the delegation to the site.
Choi said Pelosi’s counterpart, the Speaker of the National Assembly, should have been responsible for holding a welcoming ceremony. He also claimed that Pelosi’s office declined a ceremony given the late arrival of her delegation on Wednesday.
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Pelosi’s office has not yet commented on the controversies stemming from criticism of the South Korean president by many citizens there.