South Korea says Tillerson’s departure won’t affect coordination

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s departure comes as “a sudden change,” but it won’t affect South Korea and the United States’ close coordination over North Korean nuclear issues, South Korea’s top diplomat said Wednesday.

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha made the remarks to reporters on her way to work earlier this morning following the news that Tillerson will step down from his post.

Asked whether it would cause problems for South Korea-US diplomatic coordination, Kang said, “That is unlikely.”

Refusing to comment on the replacement of the US secretary of state, she said, “I cannot make any comments on a personnel decision of a foreign country.

“As (we) maintained (coordination) closely, I believe (we) can continue to do so with the new person,” she said, referring to Mike Pompeo, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency who will replace Tillerson.

Kang was to hold talks with Tillerson on Friday in Washington to discuss North Korean issues ahead of their presidents’ planned meetings with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in April and May.

“With the change in the US, I may need to readjust (the schedule) or something,” she said, adding that the option of sticking to the current schedule is also effective.

Despite the US change, Lee Do-hoon, the foreign ministry’s point man on North Korean nuclear issues, departed for Washington on Wednesday, sticking to his plan for coordination with American officials ahead of the foreign ministerial talks.

“The foundation for the important opportunity of holding an inter-Korean summit and a US-North summit has been laid,” Lee said before his flight to the US. “Close coordination between South Korea and the US is more important than ever. And with that perspective, I will have consultations with related officials there.” (Courtesy Yonhap)