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Liberals attack Yoon's diplomacy after Korea not invited to G7 summit
2024-04-24
Korea was not invited to attend this year's Group of 7 (G7) summit, raising questions about why it was sidelined. The Foreign Ministry and presidential office said the lack of invitation was mainly due to the chair country Italy’s focus on immigration issues concerning Africa, stressing that it doesn't reflect a diminishing of Korea's diplomatic influence.
 
“It is understood that Italy, the chair country of the G7 summit this year, selected the invited countries mainly based on African and Mediterranean issues related to its own domestic immigration issues,” the Foreign Ministry and presidential office explained in a press release Saturday. “We respect this and acknowledge that the countries invited to the G7 summit are selected each year based on the agenda of interest of the chair country.”

The G7, an intergovernmental political and economic forum of seven developed countries comprised of the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan, invites additional countries to each year’s summit based on the discretion of the rotating chair country. Korea has been invited to the G7 summit three times since 2020.
 
President Yoon Suk Yeol attended last year’s G7 summit with an invitation from Japan, and former president Moon Jae-in was invited to the summits in 2020 and 2021, when the United States and the United Kingdom were chair countries, respectively. Germany, the chair country in 2022, did not extend an invitation to Korea.

The Foreign Ministry and presidential office said that when France chaired in 2011, Germany in 2015 and Italy in 2017, all the invited countries were African nations. The Korean government also stressed that cooperation with the G7 is year-round and involves major international issues, not a one-time event that occurs only in the form of the summit, adding that Korea is set to participate in several G7 ministerial meetings this year.
 
“The key to our diplomatic policy, the vision of a ‘global pivotal state,’ is to participate in the international community’s efforts to preserve a rules-based international order based on core values such as freedom and peace,” the Korean government said.

Korea’s appointment as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, its invitation to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit for three consecutive years from 2022 to this year, its hosting of the third Summit for Democracy in March and hosting of the AI Summit in May are examples of Korea’s growing presence as a global pivotal state, the government said.

However, the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) and others criticized the Foreign Ministry’s and presidential office’s defense of Korea not being invited to the G7 summit this year, saying that the Yoon government has been effectively excluded from important meetings to discuss urgent international matters such as the war in Ukraine, the Middle East situation and a new Cold War on the Korean Peninsula.
 
“The Yoon administration should abandon its biased foreign and security policies and change its policy stance to pragmatic diplomacy centered on national interests,” said Kang Sun-woo, spokesperson for the DP, in a briefing on Saturday. “The ‘G7 plus initiative’ of the Yoon administration, which promised to strengthen Korea's international status, has become meaningless. It is devastating to see this result come through even though we have strengthened solidarity with Western countries and Japan at the expense of relations with China.” 
 
Korea has been pushing for a G7 plus initiative to expand its role and responsibilities as a middle power, calling for member countries of the G7 to possibly upgrade the forum to a "G9," with the inclusion of Korea and Australia.
 
“With the failure to be invited to the G7 summit, seen as the club of developed countries, we have suddenly become an underdeveloped country,” a spokesperson of the Rebuilding Korea Party, the third largest party within the 22nd National Assembly, also said in a commentary.
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