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FM in Germany to discuss G-7 invitation, COVID-19 responses

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha (left) arrives at the Incheon International Airport on Sunday to head to Berlin, Germany on Sunday. (Yonhap)
Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha (left) arrives at the Incheon International Airport on Sunday to head to Berlin, Germany on Sunday. (Yonhap)
 

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha is in Berlin on her first overseas trip in six months since the coronavirus outbreak.

The Korean official was set to hold a meeting with German counterpart Heiko Maas on Monday morning (local time) to discuss various issues, including the two countries’ responses to the pandemic, bilateral ties, people-to-people exchanges and other international issues, according to the Foreign Ministry 

Kang flew to the German capital Sunday for their second strategic dialogue. Her last international trip was in February, when she visited Switzerland, Germany and the UK.

“Kang will discuss a range of issues with her German counterpart. Since Korea has been invited to the G-7 summit, the two could exchange opinions on the matter,” a ministry official said.

Earlier, US President Donald Trump invited South Korea, along with Russia, Australia and India to join the expanded version of the G-7 summit talks of advanced economies, slated to take place in Washington later this year. But some member states, including Japan and Germany, have reportedly opposed the inclusion of the new members.

“The G-7 and G-20 are two sensibly coordinated formats. We don’t need a G-11 or G-12,” Maas said during an interview with local media outlet last month, objecting Trump’s idea, specifically referring to Russia for its annexation of Crimea and intervention in eastern Ukraine as the reasons. While Germany’s top diplomat did not state whether he is against Korea’s participation, the remarks could hamper Korea’s prospect to the addition. 

Kang will also likely ask for Germany’s support on Korean Trade Minister Yoo myung-hee’s bid to become the new director general of the World Trade Organization. Yoo is competing against seven other candidates to become the next head of the international trade organization. She and the Korean government are making a concerted effort to campaign for the WTO job until Sept. 7, when the selection process kicks off.

Kang is set to return to Korea Tuesday after a brief trip due to ongoing COVID-19 situation. Upon return, she will undergo a coronavirus test at the airport and if tested negative, she will be exempted from two-weeks self-quarantine. The ministry said she will work from home and minimize meetings with others.

The two top diplomats held their first strategic dialogue in Seoul in July 2018.

By Ahn Sung-mi (sahn@heraldcorp.com)
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