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ConflictsSouth Korea

NATO chief Stoltenberg visits South Korea to boost Asia ties

January 29, 2023

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is meeting with top South Korean officials in Seoul, before visiting Japan. The trip aims to address security threats from North Korea and China.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg with Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin
Stoltenberg and Foreign Minister Park Jin addressed security risks from North Korea during their meeting in SeoulImage: Kim Min-Hee/REUTERS

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. 

NATO, South Korea have 'shared' values 

Park vowed solidarity with NATO, emphasizing "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. 

wd/rs (Reuters, dpa)