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US and South Korea Commit to Strengthening Alliance to Address Global Challenges – Radio Free Asia

The United States and South Korea have reiterated their commitment to enhancing security cooperation to tackle challenges from North Korea and Russia amidst global issues in Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.

“The U.S.’s foreign policy is focused on the Indo-Pacific region,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken assured South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol Thursday.

“We look forward to deepening our alliance and strategic partnership with the Republic of Korea,” Blinken said, referring to South Korea’s formal name, calling the ally a “key player” in the region.

In return, Yoon also reiterated South Korea’s commitment, as America’s ally, to work closely to defend core values and strengthen the rules-based international order. 

“The U.S. leadership is becoming more critical in light of the persistent nuclear concerns with North Korea, the ongoing war in Ukraine, and the escalating tensions in the Middle East,” he added, according to a statement released by the South Korean presidential office.

In a joint press conference between Blinken and his South Korean counterpart Park Jin, both sides agreed to foster security cooperation to protect freedom, the rule of law, and human rights.

“As global instability rises, so too does the resilience of the ROK-US partnership,” Park said, adding that the cooperation should further encompass economic security and cutting-edge sectors such as artificial intelligence, quantum technology, and space exploration.

The allies also issued a stern warning to both Pyongyang and Moscow on its ammunition trade, calling it a “blatant breach” of U.N. Security Council mandates and a “significant risk to global stability.”

The reprimand followed as South Korea’s National Intelligence Service told its lawmakers in the National Assembly last week that Russia has acquired over 1 million artillery shells from North Korea since August.

The development demonstrates the strengthening relationship between Pyongyang and Moscow, underscored by the summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Russia in September.

As North Korea is aiding Russia’s military efforts in Ukraine, South Korea, a U.S. ally, has been indirectly supplying ammunition to Ukraine through intermediary nations, including the U.S.

The involvement of the two Koreas in supporting their respective allies is poised to escalate tensions. The two Koreas remain in a technical state of war as the two failed to formally end the Korean War after the 1953 armistice agreement. Both states, thus, are among the few countries with the capacity to produce large quantities of conventional ammunition.

The tension is also expected to elevate as Pyongyang prepares for what is anticipated to be its third ‘satellite’ launch.

Blinken told reporters on Thursday that relevant authorities see Moscow to be  helping the North obtain technologies which could potentially be weaponized. The assessment comes in line with that of the NIS’s. The South Korean spy agency indicated last week that North Korea was nearing the completion of its preparations for what it claims to be a ‘satellite’ launch, conducting final checks of the engine and launch apparatus. It suggested that North Korea might have consulted Russian experts, which could increase the chances of a successful launch.

Previous attempts by North Korea to send satellites into orbit in May and August were unsuccessful, which was widely regarded as a significant setback for its leader, Kim.

Such a launch would contravene United Nations Security Council resolutions prohibiting North Korea from using ballistic missile technology for any launches. North Korea’s past satellite launches have contributed to advancements in its long-range missile capabilities.

Recent tests of North Korean long-range missiles have shown the theoretical capacity to reach the U.S. mainland.

Edited by Elaine Chan and Taejun Kang

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