South Korea's Moon congratulates Biden, to ensure no gap in U.S. alliance

SEOUL (Reuters) - President Moon Jae-in said on Monday South Korea will ensure there is no gap in the alliance with the United States and the process of building peace on the Korean peninsula, as he congratulated Joe Biden on his U.S. presidential election win.

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South Korea found outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump a willing partner in efforts to meet with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. However, the relationship was strained by disagreements over exactly how to engage with Pyongyang, trade and Trump’s demand that Seoul pay billions of dollars more to support the U.S. troop presence on the peninsula.

“We will gather forces as an alliance on the shared values of democracy, peace, human rights, international solidarity and multilateral cooperation,” Moon told his top aides, the presidential Blue House said in a statement regarding the incoming Biden administration.

The South Korean government will work to promote economic relations through bilateral trade and policies and cooperate towards carbon neutrality and tackle climate change, said Moon.

He also vowed to make progress on denuclearisation on the peninsula with the next administration, while seeking new opportunities and solutions to improve inter-Korean ties.

South Korea’s ruling party floor leader Kim Tae-nyeon on Monday separately called for an arrangement of an early summit between Moon and Biden once he is inaugurated.

On Sunday, South Korea’s foreign minister arrived in Washington for talks with her American counterpart, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who cancelled his planned visit to Seoul last month after Trump tested positive for the coronavirus..

Speaking to reporters after visiting the Korean War Veterans Memorial, Kang Kyung-wha said it was too soon to predict how the new U.S. administration would handle specific issues, but she didn’t expect Biden to return to former U.S. President Barack Obama’s policy of strategic patience toward North Korea.

“It should be made based on various progress and achievements made the past three years.”

Yonhap said Kang would meet Biden’s foreign affairs and security members and discuss cooperation during her unusually long visit to the United States, without elaborating.

Her agenda includes sitting with Pompeo on Monday to discuss solidifying the alliance between the two countries and the issues at stake on the Korean peninsula. She had said she would also meet with senators and scholars.

Reporting by Sangmi Cha, Josh Smith, Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Michael Perry and Lincoln Feast.