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Defense minister engages in defense and diplomatic activities: support for cooperation in policy regarding North Korea and how t...

At Shangri-La Dialogue, Minister Lee actively engages in defense and diplomatic activities;

Met with counterparts from nations in the Asia-Pacific region, including New Zealand and Australia

Defense minister engages in defense and diplomatic

Defense minister engages in defense and diplomatic

Minister of National Defense Lee Jong-seop was actively engaged in defense and diplomatic activities at the 19th Asia Security Summit (Shangri-La Dialogue) held in Singapore from June 10 to June 12.


Participating in an international multilateral security meeting for the first time as a minister of the Yoon administration, Lee held separate talks with his counterparts from countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Singapore, as well as bilateral and trilateral talks with his counterparts from major countries involved in the issues of the Korean Peninsula, including the United States (US), Japan and China, to discuss the security situation in the region and plans for cooperation in the areas of national defense and the arms industry.


Significantly, Lee focused on explaining the ROK’s role and effort to contribute to the international community as a global pivotal state. In response, key figures from all around the world expressed their concerns about North Korea’s nuclear arms, as well as their willingness to cooperate.


US Defence Secretary Lloyd J. Austin defined North Korea’s nuclear threat as a challenge on the same level as the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change. In his address to the first session of Shangri-La Dialogue held on June 11, titled ‘Next Steps in the US Indo-Pacific strategy,’ Austin expressed his will to work together with allies to handle the challenges in the Asia-Pacific region.


In his address, Austin announced that the US is “always ready to deter any invasion, and will provide support to our treaty and UN Security Council’s will,” assessing that “we are facing continued threats from North Korea.” He later added, “We seek to strengthen the ROK-US-Japan trilateral security cooperation to respond to North Korea’s habitual provocations and missile tests. We will continue to reinforce the extended deterrence against North Korea’s nuclear arms and ballistic missiles.”


Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio delivered the keynote address on the first day of the Shangri-La Dialogue. “The ROK, the US, and Japan need to closely cooperate on security assurance in the region, discussions in the UN, and diplomatic response, in order to achieve North Korea’s complete denuclearization in compliance with the UN Security Council resolutions,” Kishida stated, announcing the cooperation policy toward North Korea.


During his talks with Lee on June 10, New Zealand’s Defense Minister Peeni Henare expressed concern over the increasing tension on the Korean Peninsula, including North Korea’s series of missile launches. “New Zealand has been faithfully implementing sanctions against North Korea, and taking active part in the international community’s signing effort to condemn North Korea’s missile launches,” Henare said, expressing his support.


In response to Lee’s explanation of the security situation on the Korean Peninsula at the meeting with Lee, Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand also expressed her will to provide continued support, stressing that “Canada is contributing to building peace on the Korean Peninsula, including the faithful implementation of UN sanctions against North Korea.”


During the bilateral talks with Singaporean Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen, Lee emphasized that “the ROK will work to deter North Korea’s evolving nuclear and missile capabilities, and will cement its will to respond to North Korea by strengthening the ROK-US combined defense posture to effectively deter the use of the nuclear arms and missiles that North Korea possesses,” In response, Ng Eng Hen said “maintaining peace and stability in the Asia region, particularly on the Korean Peninsula, given the complex international situation, is more important than ever.”


At the meeting with Lee on June 12, Netherlands Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren promised to provide “support necessary for building peace on the Korean Peninsula,” stressing that “the Netherlands is keeping tabs on issues of the Korean Peninsula with great interest.”


At the meeting with Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Richard Marles that day, Lee explained in detail the Yoon administration’s will to deter North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats and its policy toward North Korea at the request of Marles, and asked for Marles’ attention to help achieve a visible outcome in arms industry cooperation between the two countries following the export of K-9 self-propelled howitzers.


Following Lee’s address, which was titled ‘North Korea’s denuclearization and security in the Indo-Pacific region,’ security officials from all around the world responded with a barrage of questions. “Some people say we should give up efforts to denuclearize North Korea because North Korea does not wish to become denuclearized, but the ROK government doesn’t see it that way. North Korea’s will can change at any time, so we need to continue efforts for its denuclearization,” Lee replied.

By Chul-Hwan, Kim < >

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