NATO chief Stoltenberg visits South Korea to boost Asia ties

World Sunday 29/January/2023 15:31 PM
By: DW
NATO chief Stoltenberg visits South Korea to boost Asia ties

Seoul: NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg landed in South Korea on Sunday, in a bid to boost the military alliance's relations with US partners in Asia.

After arriving in South Korea, Stoltenberg paid his respects at the Seoul National Cemetery, where Korean veterans are buried. 

Stoltenberg met with top South Korean officials in the capital, including Foreign Minister Park Jin. He will also meet Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup.

Stoltenberg is also likely to hold a meeting with conservative South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol.

During his meeting with the South Korean foreign minister, Stoltenberg addressed North Korea's "reckless" nuclear and missile programs. He said Europe and Asia are "interconnected," as Stoltenberg believes North Korea is helping Russia in its war on Ukraine.      

Stoltenberg has also pointed to the rising security threat from China as a reason for his trip to the Asia-Pacific.

Park vowed solidarity with NATO, emphasising "shared values" between NATO nations and South Korea.

"Given today's unprecedented global challenges, we believe that solidarity among countries that share values of freedom, democracy and rule of law is more important than ever," Park said.    

South Korea opened up a diplomatic mission to NATO in November, and pledged to strengthen coordination on issues such as non-proliferation and cyberterrorism.

Following the South Korea trip, Stoltenberg will depart for Japan on Monday. He is expected to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and other officials during that visit.

Both Yoon and Kishida attended a NATO summit in Spain in June, becoming the first leaders of their countries to do so. Their attendance drew backlash from Chinese state-run media.