Washington has assured that it considers both South Korea and Japan equally important regional allies and partners.
U.S. State Department’s Acting Press Secretary Mark Toner on Monday dispelled concerns over State Secretary Rex Tillerson’s recent remarks about South Korea and Japan, which were deemed as an indicator that South Korea may have fallen in priority to the U.S.
During an interview with a U.S. media outlet during his trip to Northeast Asia last week, Tillerson called Japan "our most important regional ally," while referring to South Korea as "an important partner."
Toner said he wouldn’t put too much emphasis on word choice and both South Korea and Japan are “strong allies and partners in the region.”
Regarding the absence of a foreign ministerial dinner during Tillerson's stay in South Korea, Toner reiterated that Seoul did not arrange dinner for him. He refuted South Korean media reports that quoted Seoul officials as saying Tillerson refused to have dinner with South Koreans due to his fatigue.