Washington: Retired United States Navy Admiral Harry Harris was sworn in as the new ambassador to South Korea on Saturday (local time).
Harris’s nomination to the post was confirmed by the US Senate in a voice vote on Thursday, The Hill reported.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo congratulated Harris on his swearing-in, adding that he has “a lot of work” ahead of him in ensuring peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.
“Congratulations to Harry B. Harris, Jr. on his swearing-in as the next U.S. Ambassador to South Korea. A lot of work ahead on maintaining our ironclad alliance with #ROK and achieving the final, fully verified denuclearization of the #DPRK, as agreed to by Chairman Kim,” Pompeo tweeted.
Congratulations to Harry B. Harris, Jr. on his swearing in as the next U.S. Ambassador to South Korea. A lot of work ahead on maintaining our ironclad alliance with #ROK and achieving the final, fully verified denuclearization of the #DPRK, as agreed to by Chairman Kim. pic.twitter.com/ixacGezBT3
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) June 30, 2018
Pompeo had suggested that Trump consider Harris for the open post in Seoul, ahead of the summit between the US President and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore, CNN reported.
Trump had earlier chosen former National Security Council director for Asia, Victor Cha, for the post. However, Cha was dropped in January following a disagreement over the White House’s consideration of a pre-emptive strike against North Korea.
Harris now faces the challenge of helping Pompeo facilitate the next step in talks with Pyongyang.
In the June 12 meeting, Trump and Kim signed a joint agreement, wherein the latter agreed to work for a ‘complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula’ in exchange for security guarantees by the US.
After returning from Singapore, Trump tweeted that North Korea was “no longer a nuclear threat”.
However, Pompeo, in stark contrast, said earlier this week that North Korea continued to be a nuclear threat, adding that the US will not ease sanctions unless Pyongyang achieved “complete and verifiable denuclearisation”.
On a related note, Harris, during his confirmation hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last month, also said that North Korea continues to be a nuclear threat and advocated that major military exercises be paused to give Kim a chance to prove whether he is “serious”. (ANI)