UPDATE : 2018.8.14 TUE 14:06
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U.S. seeks S. Korea's understanding of delayed appointment of top envoy

The United States has sought South Korea's "understanding" with regard to Washington's recent withdrawal of Victor Cha from consideration for ambassador to Seoul, the foreign ministry in Seoul said Thursday, adding that the allies continue to cooperate on filling the long-vacant post as soon as possible.

The White House has dropped its bid to appoint Cha as ambassador to the Asian ally, reportedly due to his disagreement with the Donald Trump administration's consideration of a limited military strike on North Korea.

Cha, a Korean American, served as director for Asian affairs on the White House National Security Council in the George W. Bush administration. He is currently the Korea chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

"The U.S has sought our understanding through diplomatic channels that its efforts to send its ambassador to the South before the PyeongChang Winter Olympics have not panned out as planned," foreign ministry spokesman Noh Kyu-duk told reporters in a regular press briefing.

"It has also asked for our understanding about the fact that the matter was reported in media before it was property discussed with the South."

The spokesman said that the allies continue to cooperate on filling the vacancy as soon as possible and reaffirmed that they also closely communicate at "every possible level" in dealing with pending issues.

The post has been empty since the Trump administration took office in January last year.

In December, the U.S. asked South Korea to approve Cha as top envoy, which the Seoul government did right away. But a prolonged delay in his official appointment has raised speculation that he might not be able to get a final endorsement.

In an op-ed posted on The Washington Post on Tuesday (local time), Cha voiced support for applying more pressure on the North for its denuclearization.

He worried that a preventive strike that was "suggested" by some officials of the Trump government would not be the answer to the growing nuclear and missile threats.

There are concerns that the U.S.' withdrawal of Cha might signal that Washington is actually considering military action to deal with the current nuclear stalemate and mulling over appointing an envoy with a much tougher stance on the reclusive state.

Hwi Won  edt@koeapost.com

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