The United States and South Korea discuss North Korea, Russia and China
Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, met with South Korean leaders on Thursday to discuss common concerns regarding North Korea, Russia, and China. During their conversations, President Yoon Suk Yeol and Blinken also pledged to continue supporting Ukraine against the Russian invasion and promoting humanitarian aid to Palestinian civilians in Gaza.
Blinken condemned North Korea’s alleged supply of military equipment and ammunition to Russia, which is being used in the war against Ukraine. Both countries also discussed the importance of cooperation on global challenges, including China’s assertiveness and instability in the Middle East. They also addressed improving relations between South Korea and Japan, as well as the importance of three-way cooperation between Washington, Tokyo, and Seoul.
In a joint news conference with South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin, Blinken discussed steps the countries could take to exert pressure on Russia not to transfer military technology to North Korea, violating multiple UN Security Council resolutions.
North Korea has reportedly been supplying artillery shells and other munitions to Russia to support its war efforts in Ukraine. There are concerns that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un could be seeking Russian and other technological aid in exchange to improve its own army.
Blinken also criticized North Korea’s increased missile testing activity, including simulated attacks on South Korea with tactical nuclear weapons. He condemned North Korea’s pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile capabilities, describing them as violations of UN Security Council resolutions and as dangerous and destabilizing.
South Korean officials have also raised concerns that North Korea might consider providing weapons and other aid to Hamas. Last month, the South Korean military stated that Hamas likely used North Korean-made weapons during an attack on Israel.
Tensions between North and South Korea are at their highest point in recent years, with Pyongyang intensifying its weapons tests and combined South Korean-U.S. military drills. North Korea’s Central News Agency condemned the visit of U.S. officials and called them “warmongers” who bring a “new war cloud” to Asia.
Blinken’s visit to South Korea followed a meeting of G7 foreign ministers in Japan, where they reiterated their call for the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and demanded that North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs in a complete, verifiable, and irreversible manner.
Both Pyongyang and Moscow have denied accusations that North Korea has been supplying munitions to Russia. The G7 also expressed serious concerns about the situation in the East and South China Seas and opposed any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion.
President Joe Biden is scheduled to meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping next week on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Forum summit in San Francisco.
Overall, the discussions between the U.S. and South Korea highlighted the shared concerns and ongoing efforts to address common issues regarding North Korea, Russia, and China.