(LEAD) Blinken likely to visit S. Korea on occasion of upcoming democracy summit: sources

SEOUL, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is likely to visit South Korea next month on the occasion of the upcoming session of the Summit for Democracy, a U.S.-led multination gathering aimed at promoting shared values and prosperity, diplomatic sources said Tuesday. Talks are ongoing with the U.S. side about the top U.S. diplomat's potential trip to Seoul, although it has not been finalized yet, sources familiar with the matter said. If realized, it will be Blinken coming to South Korea again in just four months. He last visited Seoul in November last year and held talks with his then South Korean counterpart, Park Jin. The likely in-person visit by Blinken would mean that U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to attend the summit virtually, the sources said. The Summit for Democracy is led by the United States to reinforce the democratic bloc with like-minded countries in the face of various challenges posed by the rise in authoritarianism. South Korea is hosting this year's summit, its third such session, from March 18-20, the presidential office announced. The ministerial sessions will be held on the first day, followed by panel discussions involving civic groups the next day. The leaders' session will take place virtually on the last day. The previous summits took place in a hybrid format: a virtual plenary session involving the leaders and an in-person session of the ministers. The U.S. hosted the inaugural session in 2021. The second session was co-hosted by the U.S., South Korea, Costa Rica, the Netherlands and Zambia. Source: Yonhap News Agency