NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (from the NATO website)
For the first time ever, South Korea and Japan will be joining a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) meeting at the level of ministers of foreign affairs to be held April 7, during which attendees will discuss sanctions on Russia as well as ways to support Ukraine as it suffers the devastation of war. With the international community joining forces to respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it’s become much more likely that South Korea will also be asked to play a part in countering Russia’s aggression.
In a press release Tuesday, NATO announced that a meeting of the ministers of foreign affairs of its member states will take place on April 7. Non-NATO attendees of the meeting will include foreign ministers of South Korea, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand from the Asia-Pacific, as well as foreign ministers from Northern European countries, including Sweden and Finland.
Some participants will be attending the meeting virtually, the press release stated. Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba will also be participating in the meeting as a representative of the country currently at war with Russia.
The upcoming meeting is especially noteworthy as it has been organized in an effort to strengthen cooperation between NATO member states — namely, the US and many European countries — and countries of the Asia-Pacific, with the war in Ukraine serving as the occasion. The meeting will be presided over by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and will primarily deal with sanctions on Russia and ways to support Ukrainian refugees.
South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong, who will attend the NATO meeting, said during a general meeting of the Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee at the National Assembly on Monday that South Korea will “deliberate plans for international cooperation in order to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula and bring about the speedy resumption of the Korean Peninsula peace process.”
Earlier, on March 14, Stoltenberg disclosed during a phone conversation with Chung that he was planning a meeting for foreign ministers of NATO as well as four NATO partners in the Asia-Pacific (South Korea, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand), requesting Chung to participate in the meeting when the time came.
Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Yoshimasa Hayashi will be at the NATO meeting as well. Japanese newspaper The Nikkei wrote that “a Japanese foreign minister will be attending [a NATO foreign ministers meeting] for the first time,” adding that “sanctions on Russia cannot be concluded by NATO member states alone” and that the goal of the meeting is to “expand the base of cooperation [for the sanctions] so that their effectiveness is enhanced.”
By Kim So-youn, Tokyo correspondent
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