Is Yoon’s earlier than expected call with Australian PM his first bid at joining Quad?

Posted on : 2022-03-17 17:12 KST Modified on : 2022-03-17 17:12 KST
The call is seen as highlighting Yoon’s intent to make good on his campaign pledge of having Korea join the Quad security dialogue
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol speaks over the phone with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison at his office in central Seoul’s Jongno District on March 16. (provided by the People Power Party)
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol speaks over the phone with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison at his office in central Seoul’s Jongno District on March 16. (provided by the People Power Party)

South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol discussed ideas for advancing South Korea-Australia relations in a telephone conversation Wednesday with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Addressing the press on Wednesday, spokesperson Kim Eun-hye said Yoon had “spoken by telephone with Prime Minister Morrison for 25 minutes at 6 pm today.”

“President-elect Yoon and Prime Minister Morrison agreed on the need to expand their comprehensive strategic partnership, which was upgraded last year for the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations, and to pursue cooperation in advanced areas such as carbon neutrality and space while stepping up their collaboration on building stable supply chains in areas such as core minerals,” she noted.

The conversation was reportedly cordial, with Morrison congratulating Yoon on his election and Yoon stressing the “deep bond” that the people of South Korea feel toward the country that sent some 17,000 young people to fight during the Korean War. Yoon also expressed his “hope that we can develop our practical collaboration in different areas going forward as partners sharing the values of liberal democracy and the market economy.”

Morrison expressed his hope to contribute to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula through stronger regional cooperation, to which Yoon replied that he “deeply agreed with your remarks about the freedom and stability of the Korean Peninsula not being subject to compromise.”

Morrison also reportedly signaled his hope of taking part in a summit in Seoul.

The telephone conversation was Yoon’s fourth with a foreign head of state, after previous ones with US President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The fact that Yoon spoke so soon with Morrison — relative to Australia’s diplomatic importance and the scale of trade between the two countries — was seen as a reflection of his intent to join the Quad framework. South Korea’s membership in the Quad — a strategic security dialogue among the US, Japan, Australia and India — was one of Yoon’s election pledges.

During his campaign, Yoon pledged to “rebuild the South Korea-US alliance” and “reinforce the comprehensive strategic alliance.” He also said he would adhere to a gradual approach of taking part in Quad-affiliated vaccine, climate change, and new technology working groups, while exploring whether to join officially at a later date.

By Kim Mi-na, staff reporter

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

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