April 6 (UPI) -- South Korea could cooperate with members of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue on a case-by-case basis on areas like the COVID-19 vaccine and climate change, according to a local press report.
A South Korean foreign ministry official who met with local reporters Tuesday said there have been requests for Seoul's participation in the Quad. The official said South Korea could cooperate with the Quad in regions and on policies that are aligned with President Moon Jae-in's New Southern policy, Newsis reported.
"We continue to discuss substantial cooperation plans with the United States within the context of the New Southern policy and [the United States'] Indo-Pacific strategy, in various fields," the South Korean source said.
The Quad is a partnership among nations in the Indo-Pacific that includes the United States, Japan, Australia and India. China has criticized "cliques" that could serve as a check against Beijing's growing power. South Korea has declined to join the Quad amid signs the move could impact its relations with Beijing.
South Korea's foreign ministry could be issuing mixed messages, however.
Local television network KBS reported Tuesday a source at the foreign ministry said there have been no formal requests from Quad members for South Korean participation.
"We have not received an official request to participate in the Quad," KBS' foreign ministry source said.
"Our basic position is that it is possible to cooperate with any partner if it conforms to our principles of cooperation such as openness and transparency, and contributions to the national interest and world peace," the source said.
On Thursday, the White House said in a background briefing that the Biden administration had "very close consultations with Korean friends," when asked about potential South Korean membership in the Quad.
"We've made clear that there might be opportunities for unofficial engagement in a number of initiatives we've launched," the U.S. official on the call said.
The United States and South Korea are "working closely on a COVID plan to deliver up to a billion doses to Southeast Asia," the official said.