The President of South Korea did not receive Pelosi after her high-profile visit to Taiwan. The trip, which caused disagreements between the politician and the US administration, could negatively affect the image of Washington, experts say.
South Korea gives Pelosi a cold welcome
After the resonant visit of Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi to partially recognized Taiwan, a stop in South Korea as part of an Asian tour looked, contrary to expectations, much less remarkable. On Thursday morning, the Associated Press reported Pelosi's intention to visit the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. This area, also called the joint security zone, is controlled jointly by the US-led UN command and North Korea.
Pelosi planned to visit the village of Phanmunjom, where a ceasefire was signed in 1953 that ended the Korean War. A visit to this zone was supposed to be a landmark event— former US President Donald Trump was the last senior US politician to visit for talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in 2019. However, neither a photo of the politician in Panmunjom, nor a quote from her speech to the US military appeared in the media.
Pelosi, who regularly posts about the progress of the Asian tour on Twitter, also avoided this event. The fact that this is the first visit of the speaker of the US House of Representatives to the country in 20 years has also gone unnoticed. At the same time, American President Joe Biden was in Seoul in May 2022.
The most talked about event of the visit was the fact that Pelosi was not received by South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol. This is the first leader to refuse a face-to-face meeting with the Speaker of the US House of Representatives as part of her Asian tour. Prior to that, she was hosted by Singaporean Prime Minister Li Hsienlong, Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. Pelosi is expected to hold talks with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Friday.
The formal reason why Pelosi failed to meet with the South Korean leader was the discrepancy between schedules— the President had a vacation on the dates of her visit.
“President Yoon's vacation schedule and Speaker Pelosi's visit to the Republic of Korea coincided, and we didn't change our schedule,” his office said in a statement. However, Yoon Seok Yeol was in Seoul on the dates of Pelosi's visit and had the opportunity to meet with her, but wished to limit himself to a 40-minute telephone conversation. Local media drew attention to the fact that none of the South Korean dignitaries met Pelosi upon arrival, although they sent a guard of honor to the airport. The US Ambassador to South Korea, Philip Goldberg, and the Commander of the US Armed Forces in the country, Paul Lacamera, were waiting for her at the special board.
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The South Korean newspaper The Chosun Ilbo, citing sources, said that this situation was regarded by the American side as a disregard for protocol and caused outrage at the embassy. It was aggravated by the fact that during the arrival of Pelosi, the president of the country was watching a performance. As a result, Pelosi held negotiations only with the speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic, Kim Jin-Pyo. Foreign Minister Yun Byungse was at the meeting of ASEAN Foreign Ministers in Cambodia at that time.
According to Asia Times, such a cold reception could be given to Pelosi due to the fact that South Korea was the first stop on the politician's Asian tour after visiting Taiwan, which drew criticism from China, which considers the island part of its territory. At the moment, Beijing is conducting unplanned military exercises and has actually encircled the island. “Now the timing is very bad for a personal meeting (with the President of South Korea) with Pelosi, since this may once again provoke Beijing, and it is also unknown how this will be perceived by other counterparties,” — Yegor Spirin, junior researcher at the Institute for International Studies at MGIMO, told RBC.
In turn, Andrei Kortunov, Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), believes that after the trip of 82-year-old Pelosi to Taiwan, one can talk about some kind of toxicity of the policy. “It's still one of her last big trips. As far as I know, Pelosi will not run this year (in the congressional elections. — RBC) and is leaving the political arena. Probably, there is some kind of toxicity, but it is still carried out with all decorum. She was in Congress for many years, and Biden will note this, but Pelosi— departing figure. This is clear to everyone, — Kortunov said.
Washington unhappy with Pelosi's trip to Taiwan
Upon returning to the US, Pelosi may also face a chilly attitude. According to Bloomberg, despite statements from the White House that a politician has the right to decide for herself whether to fly to Taiwan or not, Biden administration officials were furious that the speaker of the House of Representatives wanted to make this visit a significant milestone in her career. despite the “extremely delicate moment in relations with Beijing.” According to agency sources, the White House sent senior officials from the National Security Service and the State Department to Pelosi and her team, whose task was to convince her to postpone the visit. When it dawned on the White House that Pelosi was not ready to do it, Biden publicly said that the US military thought her trip “doesn't seem like a good idea.” He did not call for a postponement of the visit, as the White House was not sure that Pelosi would go for it even under such circumstances.
Despite disagreements between the White House and Pelosi, it is premature to talk about an internal split, since both Biden and Pelosi belong to the centrist wing of the Democratic Party, says Kortunov.
“Pelosi has no fundamental differences with Biden. It is important how it is perceived by US partners. If you look at the same Beijing, then in the course of my contacts with my Chinese colleagues, they tell me: either Biden is deceiving and the visit was agreed, but he himself wants to stay on the sidelines and therefore declares disagreements, or it is not clear who is responsible for foreign policy. he added. When the speaker of parliament and the president, belonging to the same party group, cannot agree, the country is perceived as an unreliable partner, and there can be no strategic agreements with it. continued Kortunov. “Biden should then be perceived as a lame duck, and, accordingly, we need to wait for new elections. In any case, this is not good for the image of the United States and for the prospects for reaching agreements in principle with both allies and opponents of Washington, — concluded the expert.
According to Spirin, the current disagreements do not indicate a conflict between the White House and Pelosi, but rather weak coordination. “An anti-Chinese consensus naturally exists in the US administration as well. But the question is, Pelosi's visit really could have been better timed,” — he said. The situation, according to the expert, was also influenced by other factors, in particular, the November elections to the US Congress and the personality of Pelosi, since the politician is known for her activism. “It seems to me, as well as to a number of American analysts, that symbolic toughness against China has become valuable in itself without realizing the clear results that Washington wants to achieve,” — concluded Spirin.
Authors Tags Persons
politician, President of the United States
November 20, 1942
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