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PoliticsSouth Korea

South Korea, EU pledge to boost security ties

May 22, 2023

EU leaders Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen and South Korea's President Yoon Suk Yeol condemned Russia's war in Ukraine and North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

South Korea's President Yoon Suk Yeol poses for a photo with European Council President Charles Michel, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen
The leaders vowed cooperation in the face of security challenges such as Russia's assault on Ukraine and North Korea's illicit nuclear programImage: Jung Yeon-Je/REUTERS

European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen held talks with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol on Monday during a summit in Seoul.

The talks mark 60 years of diplomatic relations between the EU and South Korea, and come after Michel, von der Leyen and Yoon attended the G7 summit in Japan

Leaders condemn Russia, North Korea 

The talks focused on trade agreements, North Korea's banned weapons programs and Russia's war in Ukraine.

According to a joint statement, the trio agreed to increase cooperation in the face of global threats, including Russia's war in Ukraine and North Korea's efforts to develop its nuclear arsenal.

"Russia must stop its aggression and immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the entire territory of Ukraine," the statement said.

Von der Leyen thanked Yoon at the press conference for South Korea's financial and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

Seoul has sent humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and sold tanks to Kyiv ally Poland. However, South Korea has not provided weapons to Ukraine due to its policy of not sending arms to active conflict zones.

Ukraine secures military aid, including fighter jets, at G7

The leaders condemned North Korea's "repeated illegal ballistic missile launches as well as its ongoing nuclear development and references to the possible use of nuclear weapons" and called on Pyongyang to cease such actions and return to dialogue. 

What else was on the agenda?

Von der Leyen, Michel and Yoon pledged to strengthen trade ties with more talks on issues "including supply chain resilience and... export controls and economic coercion."

Yoon also agreed to create a "green partnership" with the EU against climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution that pose an "existential threat," the statement said. 

On Sunday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also met with Yoon in South Korea, where they agreed to boost defense cooperation, build stable industrial supply chains and address the challenges posed by nuclear-armed North Korea.

The trip marked the first visit by a German chancellor to Seoul in three decades.

Yoon has been seeking closer ties with Western allies to address challenges such as the war in Ukraine, China and North Korea. In June last year, he attended a NATO summit, in a first for a South Korean leader.

German Chancellor Scholz visits South Korea

fb/nm (AFP, dpa)