Berliner Tageblatt - Blinken to travel to South Korea for third democracy summit

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Blinken to travel to South Korea for third democracy summit
Blinken to travel to South Korea for third democracy summit / Photo: © AFP

Blinken to travel to South Korea for third democracy summit

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday he will travel to South Korea this month as it holds the Summit for Democracy, a signature initiative of President Joe Biden.

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Meeting his South Korean counterpart in Washington, Blinken said that the summit was "near and dear to the heart of President Biden."

"We're grateful that you’ve picked up the torch on the Summit for Democracy, and I very much look forward to being in South Korea and participating," Blinken said.

South Korea is set to hold the summit from March 18 to 20.

Biden initiated the summit, which has been primarily virtual, in 2021 to champion democracy, in an explicit contrast to his predecessor and likely 2024 election rival Donald Trump, who befriended authoritarian leaders and refused to accept his own defeat at the polls.

A second edition took place in 2023 that was organized largely by the United States but included virtual co-hosts on other continents -- South Korea, Zambia, Costa Rica and The Netherlands.

The first two summits have drawn scrutiny for the invitation list, with the United States declining to invite a number of allies and partners who see themselves as democratic, such as Bangladesh, Singapore, Thailand and Turkey.

Hungary, where Prime Minister Viktor Orban has been an outspoken critic of liberal values, has been alone among European Union members not to be invited.

South Korea has become a growing partner of the United States, with conservative President Yoon Suk Yeol building defense ties with Washington and seeking to repair historical rifts with fellow US ally Japan.

The US-South Korea "alliance is sustained and strengthened by the values we share. We are working to stand up for human rights and democratic values," South Korean Foreign Minister Cho Tae Yul told Blinken.

Cho said Washington and Seoul were also moving "in lockstep" in condemning "North Korea's increasingly provocative rhetoric and actions that violate multiple UN Security Council resolutions."