President Yoon Suk-yeol will be attending the NATO summit, which will take place in Madrid, Spain on June 29 and 30 as the first overseas tour of his presidency. It is the first time that a South Korean president will be participating in the summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a collective regional defense system centered on the U.S. and Europe.
“President Yoon will be attending the NATO summit for the first time as a South Korean president at the invitation of the organization,” a presidential office official told a press briefing Friday. “He will attend sessions of meetings with 30 NATO members and their partners during the summit.” Partner nations refer to countries that formed cooperative ties with NATO by participating in the organization-led military drills and exchanging military intelligence. NATO has invited South Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Ukraine as partner countries to its summit for the first time.
It is rather unusual that a South Korean President has chosen to participate in a multilateral meeting for the first overseas tour since his or her inauguration. Watchers say the President’s participation itself will constitute a message that South Korea will align itself with NATO member states that seek to check China and Russia.
“President Yoon’s participation in the NATO summit will be an important opportunity for South Korea to strengthen cooperation with NATO allies and their partners in order to maintain international order based on shared value and principles, and increase South Korea’s role as a major global nation,” an official at the presidential office said.
Attention is also focusing on whether President Yoon will have a meeting with the Japanese leader during the visit. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is positively considering participating at the NATO summit. If the two leaders meet, it will be the first time in two years and seven months for the leaders of the two neighboring countries to meet since then President Moon Jae-in met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in December 2019. “We have no situation to confirm at this point,” an official at the presidential office said on Friday.
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