U.S. seeks to assure South Korea after withdrawing nomination of ambassador to Seoul

by WorldTribune Staff, February 1, 2018

The United States has moved to assuage any concerns from Seoul over the Trump administration’s withdrawal of Victor Cha’s nomination as U.S. ambassador to South Korea.

Victor Cha

“The U.S has sought our understanding through diplomatic channels that its efforts to send its ambassador to the South before the PyeongChang Winter Olympics have not panned out as planned,” South Korea Foreign Ministry spokesman Noh Kyu-Duk said at a Feb. 1 press briefing.

“It has also asked for our understanding about the fact that the matter was reported in media before it was property discussed with the South,” Noh said.

The post has been vacant since the Trump administration took office last January.

Cha, a Korean American, served as director for Asian affairs on the White House National Security Council in the George W. Bush administration. He is currently the Korea chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Some observers believe that Cha’s name was pulled from consideration for the post due to his disagreement with some in the Trump administration who support a possible limited military strike on North Korea.

“There are concerns that the U.S.’s withdrawal of Cha might signal that Washington is actually considering military action to deal with the current nuclear stalemate and mulling over appointing an envoy with a much tougher stance on the reclusive state,” Yonhap noted in a Feb. 1 report.

In an op-ed for The Washington Post on Jan. 30, Cha voiced support for applying more pressure on the North to give up its nuclear program, but added he was concerned a preventive strike that was “suggested” by some officials of the Trump administration would not be the answer to the Kim Jong-Un regime’s growing nuclear and missile threats.

In December, the U.S. had asked South Korea to approve Cha as top envoy, which the Seoul government did immediately.

“But a prolonged delay in his official appointment has raised speculation that he might not be able to get a final endorsement,” Yonhap said in its report.

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