South Korea plans to seek high-level diplomatic contacts with the United States as early as possible in a bid to minimise the negative impacts of a bloody attack on the US ambassador to Seoul on their alliance, government officials said Friday.
US Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert was attacked at a forum on Thursday by a knife-wielding assailant, sustaining injuries on the face and wrist.
The suspect, identified as 55-year-old Kim Ki-jong, said he attacked Lippert in opposition to ongoing Korea-US military drills.
Seoul has been scurrying to prevent the incident from negatively affecting the allies' alliance at a time when the Korean public has been irked by US Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman's remarks seen as taking Japan's side in history rows.
"The two countries have maintained close co-operation. In the near term, there will be high-level contacts," a ranking official at the foreign ministry told reporters on Thursday.
South Korea said that it and the US shared the view that the attack was "an isolated incident" that will not affect the two countries' relationship.
Washington reaffirmed its strong alliance with South Korea on Thursday, saying that it won't be deterred by "senseless acts of violence" despite the incident.
As part of efforts to build close co-operation, Seoul is seeking to have Kim Hong-kyun, former secretary for international co-operation under the national security office -- who is known to be tapped as a new deputy foreign minister -- visit the US, government sources said.
In what is seen as a reciprocal move to a series of recent Seoul visits by ranking US diplomats, the government may seek to arrange visits to Washington by Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and Vice Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yong, sources added.
US Secretary of State John Kerry may reportedly make a visit to Japan next month ahead of a planned visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the US
Kerry's itinerary has not been confirmed, but South Korea hopes that Kerry will also pay a visit to Seoul as well, as it could serve as an occasion to demonstrate the strong alliance between the two allies.
Seoul plans to spare no effort to promote public diplomacy in the US to prevent American citizens from having negative sentiments toward South Korea following the attack on Lippert, according to officials.