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Presenting the ROK’s action plan for ASEAN-ROK defense cooperation and its objectives

Minister Lee Jong-sup joins ADMM-Plus plenary session

Presentation of Indo-Pacific strategy and policy orientation

Bilateral talks with Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe

Request for China's support in bringing North Korea to the negotiating table

Presenting the ROK’s action plan for ASEAN-ROK def

Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup has presented multi-dimensional defense cooperation to ASEAN member nations, urging support and collaboration to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program.


"Minister Lee, who visited Cambodia to attend the 9th ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus), introduced the Korean government's Indo-Pacific strategy and the Ministry of National Defense's policy direction for peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region at the plenary session held on the 23rd," the Ministry of National Defense said on the 24th.


Minister Lee explained at the meeting that the ROK's Indo-Pacific policy aims to establish a rule-based international order founded on universal values under the three principles of cooperation: inclusion, trust, and reciprocity. The goal is to actualize the three ideals of freedom, peace, and prosperity. Furthermore, he said that the South Korean government considered ASEAN to be the most significant partner in implementing its Indo-Pacific strategy, and emphasized that the Ministry of National Defense had prepared the "ROK's action plan for ASEAN-ROK defense cooperation" in this regard.


Minister Lee specifically stated that the Action Plan's objective was to expand multi-dimensional defense cooperation with ASEAN based on ADMM-Plus and in the spirit of “ASEAN-centeredness.”


Furthermore, he emphasized his commitment to actively engaging in the operations of the ADMM-Plus's seven subcommittees and contributing to the development of multilateral cooperation. The seven subcommittees are maritime security (MS), military medicine (MM), humanitarian mine action (HMA), peacekeeping operations (PKO), counter-terrorism (CT), cyber security (CS), humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR).


Minister Lee stated unequivocally that North Korea's nuclear and missile threats, particularly the latest launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), pose a severe danger to peace and security not just on the Korean Peninsula, but throughout the international community.


Minister Lee emphasized that the South Korean government is pursuing “peace by force” in response to North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats, based on the ROK-US joint defense posture. He also stated that the door has been opened for dialogue so that North Korea may participate in meaningful disarmament through an "audacious initiative" that can significantly enhance the North Korean economy and people’s lives.


Furthermore, if North Korea’s nuclear and missile provocations continue, security on the Korean Peninsula will become more unstable, threatening peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region, so he called for the support and cooperation of member states in convincing North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program and come to dialog table.


North Korea's ballistic missile launches have been criticized by the United States, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines as breaches of UN Security Council resolutions and a threat to international security.


Minister Lee then met with Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe to discuss the situation on the Korean Peninsula and regional security, as well as defense cooperation between the two nations and North Korean nuclear and missile concerns.


The two ministers recalled that both nations agreed to strengthen bilateral relations at the Korea-China summit held on the sidelines of the G20 summit on the 15th. In this context, they agreed that progress in the defense industry should be pursued and achieved as well.


The two ministers also agreed on the need for strategic communication and enhancing all forms of collaboration for the long-term development of defense cooperation.


With COVID-19 not yet under control, it was decided to normalize and expand the visitation programs for defense ministers, which had been suspended after their implementation in 2015; defense strategy dialog at the vice minister level, which had been suspended after 2019; the operation of the military authorities' contact system, including direct phone calls between the ministries; human interchange, including mutual visits at various levels; education and training; and student exchanges.


Furthermore, Minister Lee agreed that it is critical to avoid accidental conflicts by utilizing communication tools such as direct phone calls between the Navy and the Air Force, which were established this year.


Minister Lee emphasized that it is not acceptable to claim that North Korea's nuclear and missile development is a response to ROK-US joint military exercises and American threats.


Minister Lee stated that North Korea was surreptitiously developing nuclear arms and missiles even during the recent talks between the two Koreas, and between the United States and North Korea. "The recent development of new missiles, launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, and preparation for a nuclear test are in fact based on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's plan for the North Korean military to strengthen defense power. The claim that external threats are the cause is nothing more than a deflection of responsibility."


In addition, he asked China to play a constructive role in bringing North Korea to the bargaining table, as this will help North Korea realize that expanding its nuclear and missile arsenal will only result in greater solidarity among and pressure from not only the US and ROK, but also Japan and the international community, and that North Korea will gain nothing out of it.


"China also does not want to exacerbate tension and instability on the Korean Peninsula," Wei responded. He reiterated China's stance that the problem should be handled via dialogue between the countries concerned, and noted that China has played an active and constructive role in stabilizing the Korean Peninsula.

By Hyun-woo, Seo <>

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  • (Presentation and Follow-on discussion)