U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Harry Harris on Friday renewed concerns over the security of the fifth-generation (5G) wireless network amid Washington's apparent campaign against Chinese telecom titan Huawei.
The United States has recently been prodding its allies and other partner countries to stop using Huawei products on security grounds amid growing trade tensions between Washington and Beijing.
"We are naturally concerned about the security implications of how the 5G network will be instantiated across Korea," Harris said during a keynote speech at a security forum hosted by the Korea Association of Military Studies and Joint Forces Staff College.
|This photo, taken June 5, 2019, shows U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Harry Harris speaking during a forum in Seoul.|
"But as allies and friends, I am confident that we will work thorough all of these issues together. We have work to do and we will work on these and other issues together," he added.
During a conference on information technology on Wednesday, Harris stressed the need for the use of a trustworthy supplier, apparently in connection with the U.S. drive against the Chinese company.
His remarks on Wednesday came a day after an official at China's foreign ministry was reported to have called on South Korea to make the "right judgment" amid Washington's apparent call for Seoul not to use Huawei communications equipment.
During Friday's forum, Harris also pointed to "burdensome regulations, non-tariff barriers and Korea-specific standards" that impede the ability of American companies operating in South Korea to "compete on a level playing field."
He enumerated such hurdles for U.S. firms as he noted the challenges facing the allies, including the planned negotiations over the sharing of costs for the upkeep of 28,500 U.S. troops here.
Touching on the stalled nuclear talks with Pyongyang, the ambassador said that Washington is ready to "proceed in parallel" to carry out concrete steps in return for the North's denuclearization.
"The U.S. remains ready to proceed in parallel with the denuclearization, with concrete steps to transform the U.S.-North Korea relationship (and) to establish a lasting, stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula," he said.
During the first summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore last June, they agreed to build "new relations" and make joint efforts to foster a lasting and stable peace regime on the peninsula, as well as to work towards the complete denuclearization of the peninsula.
During the forum, Harris also noted the need for South Korea and Japan to prevent their bilateral issues from affecting cooperation with Washington in addressing the North Korea issue.
"It is vital that bilateral issues between Seoul and Tokyo do not distract the three of us from focusing on our strategic imperatives vis-a-vis North Korea and other issues that have regional and global impacts," he said.
Seoul and Tokyo have sparred over a series of issues stemming mostly from Japan's 1910-45 colonization of the peninsula, including its wartime forced labor.
The ambassador cast the Seoul-Washington alliance as the "foundation for peace and prosperity on the peninsula and a linchpin for security and stability throughout the region."
"The power and glory of the alliance is far more than mere partnership or friendship," he said.
"Forged in the crucible of the war ... it has lasted for generations and will continue to thrive for generations to come as long as we together nourish it and invest in it and remain committed to it," he added.
Kang Su-mok email@example.com