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South Korea, US could explore possible 3-way energy cooperation with Japan

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Seoul, May 3 (IANS) South Korea and the US could explore expanding bilateral energy cooperation dialogue to a trilateral format involving Japan in the future, given the importance Washington puts on its two Asian allies, a US official said on Friday.

Geoffrey Pyatt, US assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Energy Resources, made the remarks in response to a reporter’s question on the prospects of expanding the talks to include other like-minded countries, such as Japan, Australia and New Zealand, Yonhap news agency reported.”I think there is a possibility for us to do more, in the North Asia context, leveraging what the United States has strongly supported in terms of the deeper cooperation between Japan, Korea and the United States,” Pyatt said during an online press briefing.While agreeing that the energy area certainly offers opportunities for the three countries or more, Pyatt struck a cautious note in that developing such possibilities would need “more work.””There are certainly some areas where I could imagine the US-Japan-Korea relationship meeting that test, but that’s going to require more work by all of us, and we’re not quite there yet,” he said.”The relationships are different,” Pyatt said. “I think we’ve got more work to do if we want to develop those opportunities for multilateral cooperation.””But this is very much something that’s on the agenda as we look to the future,” Pyatt said.In the latest Energy Security Dialogue between Washington and Seoul earlier this week, Pyatt said he and his South Korean counterpart, Kim Hee-sang, deputy foreign minister for economic affairs, discussed efforts to secure critical energy supply chains, such as solar energy, away from Chinese dependence on sourcing.The discussions also included talks on ways to work together to accelerate the clean energy transition in Southeast Asia and across the Indo-Pacific, Pyatt added.On South Korea’s energy dependence on Russia, such as coal imports, Pyatt noted that reducing the portion of fossil fuels is more of a broader goal to achieve the green energy transition than a matter concerning the ties with Russia.”Korea has already gone to zero on certain key fossil energy imports from Russia, its imports of Russian liquefied natural gas down by about half, compared to before the full-scale invasion began,” he said.”It’s less a matter of phasing out of Russia than phasing out of coal writ large. This is a goal which the Korean government shares…every country will have to manage this transition out of coal in a way that is sustainable.”–IANSint/sd/svn

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