NEW YORK -- After meeting with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said his country will always stand with America in "defending liberal democratic international order," a pledge meant to show the strength of the alliance while not directly criticizing China.
Moon met Harris at latter's ceremonial office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex, ahead of his meeting with President Joe Biden. It followed the same schedule as Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, when he visited Washington last month.
Speaking to reporters after their talk, Moon said that the U.S.-South Korea alliance was "forged in blood 70 years ago to fight for freedom and democracy together."
He added that "Korea, as a responsible ally that shares its core values with the United States, will always stand by America on its journey of recovering from COVID-19 crisis and defending liberal democratic international order."
The statement came after much speculation that the White House was pressing Seoul to take a tough stance on China, and that Moon's side was reluctant to do so. The pledge to defend the liberal order looks to be a compromise that expresses strong alignment with Washington without naming China.
Moon also vowed to coordinate with the U.S. "with no daylight" to achieve complete denuclearization and establish permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Harris, for her part, said the alliance is "critical to peace, security, and prosperity in Northeast Asia, the Indo-Pacific, and around the world."
She said Biden and her "are confident that together we can promote a free, open, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region, a region that is unconstrained by coercion and anchored in international rules and order."
Harris said that the largest Korean diaspora outside of Asia lives where she does, in Los Angeles. She praised Korean Americans as being "leaders in medicine, academics, entertainment, business, and politics" across America.