Senior South Korean Foreign and Defense Ministry officials and their US counterparts said Friday North Korea and Russia will pay the price for military cooperation because it violates United Nations Security Council resolutions, urging Moscow to live up to its role as a permanent UNSC member.
“The alliance of South Korea and the US is stronger than ever. The Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group meeting today where we discussed issues in depth will make the alliance more powerful,” First Vice Foreign Minister Chang Ho-jin said, following the get-together.
Launched in 2016, the EDSCG chiefly discusses policies regarding the US nuclear umbrella, which Washington says it will use if necessary to defend Seoul from a North Korean strike. It was the first time the group met in Seoul, having agreed to meet again next year.
The gathering followed North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s trip the same day to a Russian factory making fighter jets and civilian aircraft in the eastern city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur. Kim is expected to make another tour Saturday to Vladivostok to inspect Moscow’s Pacific fleet.
The trips are a follow-up to a rare summit on Wednesday between Kim and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The first meeting in four years between the two leaders is believed to have focused on a quid pro quo arms deal where Putin gets munitions from Kim to attack Ukraine in return for transferring technology, such as submarines and satellites.
Putin, who has said he will reciprocate Kim’s trip without elaborating on when, says military cooperation with Kim could take place without violating UN sanctions. The two autocrats, who met at the Vostochny Cosmodrome space center in the Amur region, are facing increasing isolation as they each deal with pressure to disarm and end the war.
The US had warned that such an exchange would prompt a response. A day after the Kim-Putin talks, Washington slapped new sanctions on more than 150 Russian businesses and individuals in what could be a push for secondary sanctions. They apply to those who have conducted business with people and groups already sanctioned.
Seoul and Washington will “use all available levers -- including diplomatic, informational, military and economic tools -- to strengthen deterrence and reinforce the US security commitment to the Republic of Korea,” officials from both countries said in a statement, using South Korea’s official name.