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(LEAD) Biden in Seoul amid tensions in Northeast Asia

2013/12/05 18:46

(ATTN: RECASTS title, paras 1-2 with Biden's arrival; ADDS more expected agendas, background info in paras 5-9)

SEOUL, Dec. 5 (Yonhap) -- United States Vice President Joe Biden arrived in South Korea on Thursday to hold talks with President Park Geun-hye on security issues, including China's contentious air defense zone and Japan's moves to strengthen its military capacity.

Biden arrived at the U.S. Air Force's Osan Air Base, located 64 kilometers south of Seoul, Thursday evening for the final leg of his three-nation Asia visit that also took him to Japan and China, according to officials.

Ways to handle China's contentious new air defense zone would dominate his meeting with Park on Friday. China's unexpected declaration of a new air defense identification zone, which overlaps those of South Korea and Japan, has triggered wild backlashes from the two neighbors.

The leaders are also expected to discuss Japan's on-going moves to obtain its right to the so-called collective self-defense, which has raised security concerns in South Korea.

How to deal with North Korea is also expected to be the top agenda of their talks.

The unruly communist country has pursued its nuclear ambition, while expressing its willingness to reopen the six-party process on its denuclearization "without preconditions."

   It is in contrast to the stance of Seoul and Washington that have demanded Pyongyang show its sincerity first by taking concrete steps toward denuclearization.

The six-party talks, which involved the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan, have been dormant since late 2008.

Biden's visit to Seoul is also timed with heightened uncertainty on the Korean Peninsula following the reported purge of Jang Song-thaek, a powerful uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The vice president is also scheduled to hold talks with Prime Minister Chung Hong-won and give a speech on foreign policy at Yonsei University on Friday.

He will also travel to the demilitarized zone, a closely guarded military buffer separating the two Koreas, on Saturday before returning back to the U.S.

Biden's stance and remarks are expected to be closely watched here as his visit will be followed by South Korea's public reaction toward Beijing's air defense zone declaration. Seoul plans to announce its new air defense zone after discussing details with the U.S. vice president, according to sources.

pbr@yna.co.kr

graceoh@yna.co.kr

(END)

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