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US expert calls for S.Korea’s inclusion into G7, touts its ‘trustworthiness’

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Washington, June 23 (IANS) A prominent US expert has made an emphatic call for the G7 to consider its membership expansion to include South Korea, touting the Asian democracy’s “trustworthiness,” performance and potential role to add diversity to the club of the world’s leading industrialised nations.Victor Cha, senior Vice President for Asia and Korea Chair at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), made the case, stressing the need for G7 leaders to pursue “serious” reforms to enhance the group’s capabilities, effectiveness and legitimacy, Yonhap news agency reported.His call came as the government of President Yoon Suk Yeol has sought South Korea’s role as a “global pivotal state” to contribute more to address a growing list of global issues in tune with the country’s enhanced global stature.”The G7 must transform from an old boys club of financiers chatting about monetary policy to a coalition of action-oriented, like-minded partners inspired to sustain the rules-based international order by addressing issues ranging from Ukraine to digital security,” Cha said in an opinion piece that he contributed to Yonhap news agency on Saturday.”To do this, G7 leaders must consider serious reforms that enhance the group’s capabilities, effectiveness, and legitimacy. Expanded membership to include Korea would be an important step in the right direction,” he added.His op-ed came after the leaders of the G7 — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain and the US — held a summit in Italy earlier this month.Yoon was not invited there as the host country, which has sole authority on the guest list, focused on migration among other main issues. He attended the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan, last year.”But it is self-evident that South Korea should not only be invited to the G7 but also that it should become a permanent member,” he said.Cha corroborated his case for South Korea’s entry into the G7 forum, cataloguing a series of examples that highlight South Korea’s growing capacity and role on the global stage.In particular, he cited a recent CSIS report that shows Seoul can contribute to the G7’s expanded agenda of global issues, including economic security, digital competitiveness, climate change, food security, non-proliferation and Ukraine.”South Korea is ranked above Italy and just below Japan in total performance,” he said, citing the report.”On digital competitiveness, Korea is ranked higher than all G7 members except the US and the UK. And on Ukraine, South Korea last year was one of the largest suppliers of humanitarian assistance.”Cha also said that South Korea offers a combination of “trustworthiness” and “effectiveness,” which G7 leaders value as the hallmark of their group.He then pointed out that South Korea’s status meets the G7 “bar”.”South Korea is an advanced industrialised democracy, an OECD member, and is the first former aid recipient to become a member of the OECD’s donor club,” he said, referring to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.Cha also said that South Korea would add “diversity” to the G7 forum in “numerous ways”.”The inclusion of more views from Asia is critical to the future of the G7 if it is to be a leader in global affairs,” he said.”The entirety of the vast region of Asia is currently represented by only one country, Japan.”He noted that Japan is the “outspoken” opponent against South Korea joining the G7.”The reasons for this opposition are unclear,” he said.”It stems not just from the desire to hold the sole seat from Asia, but also a sense of entitlement as historically, the region’s sole great power.”–IANSint/khz

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