South Korean president skips in-person meeting with Pelosi, sparking controversy

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi He wrapped up his two-day visit to Seoul on Thursday, but his non-in-person meeting with the president has sparked controversy among South Koreans.

Pelosi is the first seated speaker has visited South Korea since Dennis Hastert visited Seoul in 2002. He met with his counterpart, Kim Jin-pyo, Speaker of the National Assembly, and agreed to support the efforts of both governments to achieve denuclearization and peace on the peninsula under a strong deterrent against North Korea. Korea.

However, public criticism has mounted over South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, who skipped an in-person meeting with Pelosi because he was on summer vacation in his country’s capital, Seoul.

Despite his official visit to Seoul, the South Korean presidential office gave several responses about the meeting with Pelosi.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., addresses the media after meeting with South Korean National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin-pyo at the National Assembly on June 4. August 2022, in Seoul, South Korea.  (Photo by Kim Min-Hee - Pool/Getty Images)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., addresses the media after meeting with South Korean National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin-pyo at the National Assembly on June 4. August 2022, in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo by Kim Min-Hee – Pool/Getty Images)

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Initially, the president’s office told reporters that the meeting between Yoon and Pelosi was not scheduled due to Yoon’s scheduled summer vacation. Then, out of the blue, she said that she was coordinating with Pelosi’s office to set up a meeting, but then reversed her announcement again, saying there was no coordination between the two offices.

Although Yoon has been staying at home in Seoul, his office finally confirmed on Thursday that the two would have a phone call and not a face-to-face meeting. The call between the two lasted 40 minutes.

Earlier in the trip, he met with the leaders of Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan before arriving in Seoul. He is also expected to have a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Friday.

South Korea's new president Yoon Suk-yeol waves after the presidential inauguration in front of the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, on May 10, 2022.

South Korea’s new president Yoon Suk-yeol waves after the presidential inauguration in front of the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, on May 10, 2022.
(AP Photo/Lee ​​Jin-man)

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Choi Young-bum, the presidential chief public relations secretary, said the decision not to meet with Pelosi was made in the “national interest.”

However, the official refused to answer any further questions from reporters about what “the national interest” was referring to in this situation.

It added to the controversy when Pelosi’s delegation arrived at Osan Air Base on Wednesday, where a photo showed the absence of Seoul officials welcoming her and the delegation to the scene.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., far right, speaks with South Korean National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin-pyo, far left, during their meeting at the National Assembly on June 4. August 2022, in Seoul, South Korea.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., far right, speaks with South Korean National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin-pyo, far left, during their meeting at the National Assembly on June 4. August 2022, in Seoul, South Korea.
(Kim Min-Hee – Pool/Getty Images)

Choi said it was Pelosi’s counterpart, the Speaker of the National Assembly, who should have been responsible for holding a welcoming ceremony. She also claimed that Pelosi’s office rejected a ceremony given her delegation’s late-night arrival on Wednesday.

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Pelosi’s office has yet to comment on controversies stemming from criticism leveled at the South Korean president by many in the public there.

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