[단독] Obama Kishida’s inauguration ceremony is not coming… Foreign heads of state to attend due to Corona

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At the inauguration ceremony for President-elect Yoon Seok-yeol, which will be held on the 10th of next month, it is expected that the number of top-level foreign guests will be lower than in previous years. In addition to the political and diplomatic issues facing each country, the main reason is the reluctance to travel abroad due to the impact of COVID-19.

According to a diplomat on the 29th, the US recently considered the attendance of former President Barack Obama as a congratulatory ambassador for Yoon’s inauguration, but ultimately ended up not attending. Instead, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan is considering attending, but it is known that there is a lot of uncertainty at home and abroad, such as the war with Russia and Ukraine, so a decision has not been made yet. Considering that President Joe Biden’s visit to Korea was scheduled ten days after the inauguration ceremony, it is realistically difficult for incumbents, including the Secretary of State, to attend the inauguration ceremony.

In addition, the Corona 19 alert has been re-spreading, with key members of the cabinet, including Vice President Kamala Harris, being quarantined after being tested positive for COVID-19. The inauguration of President Lee Myung-bak in 2008 was attended by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and at the inauguration of President Park Geun-hye in 2013, National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon came as a congratulatory delegation.

It is reported that Japan has also decided not to attend, such as Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The Korea-Japan policy consultative delegation recently visited Japan to discuss their intentions, but it is difficult to attend due to the high political burden. It is known that even the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and other Japanese political parties are expressing their view that it is undesirable to hold a summit meeting with high-level officials participating in the inauguration ceremony while the issue of the past history between Korea and Japan has not been resolved.

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China is expected to send high-ranking officials at the same level as previous years as congratulatory ambassadors, but there are variables as lockdowns are being implemented in the capital city of Beijing due to the recent rapid spread of COVID-19. China sent a congratulatory ambassador to the Communist Party Politburo Liu Endong to the inauguration of President Park Geun-hye in 2013.

The president’s inauguration ceremony was attended by a number of top-level personalities from nearby Asian countries, but it is known that this year’s Corona 19 spread is not easy. So far, Singaporean President Halima Jacobs is the only Asian leader to have confirmed his participation in the inauguration ceremony.

An official from the Presidential Inauguration Preparatory Committee said, “It is still too early to confirm the attendance of top-level officials and will be confirmed next week.” said

[한예경 기자 / 김성훈 기자]
[ⓒ 매일경제 & mk.co.kr, 무단전재 및 재배포 금지]

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