Asian nation seeks NATO mission
South Korea is planning to set up a mission to NATO's headquarters in Europe, the country’s National Security Adviser Kim Sung-han revealed on Wednesday. Seoul, a long-time close ally of Washington, is seeking to bolster its cooperation with the US-led bloc in the face of an “unpredictable” international situation, the official explained.
“By establishing a NATO mission in Brussels, Belgium, where NATO is headquartered, we will be able to increase information-sharing and strengthen our networks with NATO members and partner nations,” Kim stated during a news conference.
The new mission is expected to be headed by South Korea’s envoy to Belgium, Yoon Soongu, local media reported, citing unnamed presidential officials. It was not immediately clear whether he would retain his current posts, as the envoy also doubles as the ambassador to the European Union.
The country’s President Yoon Suk-yeol is expected to attend the upcoming NATO summit in Madrid, scheduled for June 29-30, with the event becoming the first major international visit for the official, who took office on May 10. It’s also the first time ever for a South Korean president to attend a NATO summit.
Apart from the South Korean leader, the NATO meeting is expected to host other Asia-Pacific leaders for the first time. While expected to revolve primarily around the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia, the summit will also address the “challenges” posed by China, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg revealed.
“For the first time, we will address China and the challenges it poses to our interests, security and values,” Stoltenberg told Politico in an interview published Wednesday.
“In this context, I welcome that the leaders of our Asia-Pacific partners – Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea – will take part in our Summit for the first time,” the NATO boss added.