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Germany, South Korea to sign military secrets pact

May 21, 2023

Chancellor Olaf Scholz urged South Korea to invest in Germany's chip industry after meeting President Yoon Suk-yeol in Seoul. Scholz also visited the Demilitarized Zone dividing the Korean peninsula.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and his wife Britta Ernst land in Seoul
Scholz is seeking tighter coordination with South Korea regarding international security challenges in Asia and EuropeImage: Michael Kappeler/dpa/picture alliance

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Sunday warned of North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile tests, as Germany prepared to sign with South Korea an agreement to boost defense cooperation.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol announced the pact on Sunday during Scholz's visit to Seoul. He said it aimed to protect military secrets and help "smoothly operate the defense industry supply chain."

Scholz said North Korea's ballistic and missile tests were a sign of a "still dangerous situation" on the Korean peninsula. He urged Pyongyang to stop carrying out the tests, calling them a "threat to peace and security in the region."

Scholz traveled to South Korea on Sunday, after attending the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan.

He is the first German chancellor to visit the South Korean capital for a bilateral meeting in 30 years.

Scholz: 'These ballistic tests have to stop'

Talks focused on geopolitical and economic issues

Scholz met with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol in Seoul. Security challenges in the Indo-Pacific, climate change and Russia's invasion of Ukraine were on the agenda during the talks.

Economic relations were also thought to be a key focus of the visit, as Berlin is seeking to reduce the German economy's reliance on China and broaden relations with other Asian countries.

Scholz said that he hoped South Korea would invest in his country for chip production. He added that the two countries would work to advance their trade relations, especially in the fields of high-tech and clean energy.

South Korea is the fourth largest economy in Asia after China, Japan and India.

Yoon had met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during the G7 event in Hiroshima this past week.

"From now, I expect South Korea and Germany will further expand reciprocal and future-oriented cooperation and strengthen the solidarity for peace and prosperity of Europe and Asia," Yoon said in opening remarks at the meeting with Scholz.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visits the DMZ
Scholz condemned North Korea's ballistic missile tests during the visitImage: Michael Kappeler/dpa/picture alliance

Scholz makes 'moving' visit to demilitarized zone

The chancellor also visited the demilitarized zone (DMZ) which divides the Korean Peninsula. 

Together with his wife Britta Ernst, Scholz visited the blue barracks in the DMZ along the border with North Korea, where the armistice agreement concluded in July 1953 was negotiated after the three-year war. 

He said the visit to the border was very important and moving in view of the German division between 1949 and 1990.

"Germany is now reunited. That is a great fortune that we have." Visiting the Korean border showed how lucky this is, he added.

rmt, wd/mm (AFP, dpa)