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NATO chief stresses 'interconnected' security amid N. Korean support of Russian war efforts

Jan. 29, 2023 - 20:10 By Yonhap

North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (left) and South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin shake hands at the ministry in Seoul on Sunday. (Yonhap)

North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Sunday that North Korean support of Russia in the war in Ukraine reinforces the need for the rest of the world to stay "interconnected" in their security efforts.

Stoltenberg made the remark in his meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin in Seoul.

"I think that in a more unpredictable and uncertain world, it's even more important that countries that believe in freedom and democracy in rules-based international order stand together," Stoltenberg said. "We are, of course, concerned about the reckless missile tests and nuclear programs of North Korea. And the war in Ukraine has also ramifications for your region. And we also know that North Korea is providing military support to the Russian war efforts with rockets and missiles. And this just highlights how we are interconnected."

During his two-day stay in Seoul, Stoltenberg will meet with President Yoon Suk Yeol and other South Korean government officials.

"Our visit is a strong expression of the great importance we attach to the partnership between the Republic of Korea and the NATO," Stoltenberg said, referring to South Korea by its official name. "There are many areas where we really believe that even stronger partnership between the Republic of Korea and NATO can be a mutual benefit."

Stoltenberg said Yoon's attendance at a NATO summit in June was "a historic moment" and he hoped to see Yoon again at the upcoming NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania. South Korea established a mission to NATO as a follow-up to Yoon's participation in the NATO summit.

Park thanked NATO for supporting South Korean efforts in addressing North Korean nuclear and missile provocations.

"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. "And now we have strengthened our institutional foundation for further advancing our partnership. We look forward to working more closely with NATO to address today's emerging security threats."