Jan. 16 (UPI) -- South Korea's presidential Blue House rebuked U.S. Ambassador Harry Harris on Friday for making "inappropriate remarks" to Seoul's foreign press pool regarding inter-Korea cooperation.
In a meeting with local reporters, a Blue House official said Harris' remarks on North-South projects, including Seoul's proposal to allow South Koreans to travel individually to the North, are not suitable for the top U.S. envoy to Seoul, Seoul Shinmun reported.
"For an ambassador to make a public comment on the host country's president's statement before the media is extremely inappropriate," the Blue House representative said Friday. "The issue of inter-Korea cooperation is a decision for the Korean government."
"Not because we're in a position to approve or disapprove -- that's not our role -- but we are Korea's only ally, we do have 28,500 American troops here, and the American taxpayer does spend billions of dollars to defend this country, so we have an interest in inter-Korean dialogue," Harris said.
The Blue House's assessment of Harris' remarks as inappropriate is receiving support among members of the ruling Democratic Party.
Song Young-gil, a lawmaker who chairs the party's committee on Northeast Asian peace and cooperation, told MBC radio the U.S. ambassador's comments should be evaluated as "personal opinion."
"While it's fine to air your opinions, if we do everything the ambassador tells us to do, what, is the ambassador the governor-general" of colonial Korea? Song said.