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U.S. proposed talks with China over Korea contingencies: U.S. official

2018/09/13 16:37

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By Song Sang-ho

SEOUL, Sept. 13 (Yonhap) -- The United States proposed dialogue with China over potential contingencies on the Korean Peninsula "many times," but Beijing remains unwilling to engage in talks over such a sensitive issue, a senior U.S. defense official said Thursday.

Randall Schriver, assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs, made the remarks on the sidelines of the Seoul Defense Dialogue hosted by South Korea's defense ministry.

"Yeah, (we made the proposal) many times ... Just various scenarios and how we might think about them ... more at the strategic levels," Schriver told Yonhap News Agency.

"We proposed it ... They (China) haven't accepted it," he added.

The official appears to be referring to possible contingencies such as armed conflict on the peninsula and any sudden social or political upheavals in the impoverished North -- scenarios Seoul and Washington have long been preparing for.

At the height of military tensions on the peninsula, concerns rose that the U.S. and China may diverge on how to approach Korea contingencies as they try to maximize their own national interests to tip the security balance in their favor.

During the security forum, Schriver noted that the dialogue proposal with America's fast-emerging strategic rival was part of efforts to build mutual trust.

"I think we could do better on the Korean Peninsula ... We talked to China about having our militaries have dialogue on potential contingencies and what we might think about and how we might approach contingencies," he said.

"We think that is an important way to build confidence and also to prepare for potential contingencies. So we are going to continue to try to introduce that as a confidence-building measure," he added.

He made the remarks as he explained Washington's efforts to ensure that Sino-U.S. competition unfolds in a way that is "benign and does not result in any unintended military confrontation."

   Touching on Washington's strategy to promote a "free and open" Indo-Pacific region, the official said that the U.S. is willing to embrace China as long as it is committed to regional rules-based order.

"It is an inclusive, affirmative strategy, and we are more than willing to partner with China if China wants to uphold these same principles. In fact, that is our goal, to bring China into the regional security architecture that is supportive of these enduring principles," he added.

This photo taken in Singapore on June 11, 2018, shows Randall Schriver, assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs. (Yonhap) This photo taken in Singapore on June 11, 2018, shows Randall Schriver, assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs. (Yonhap)

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