President Yoon Suk-yeol is due to leave for Spain on Monday to attend a NATO summit and meet world leaders to discuss security and economic issues in his first overseas trip as president. .
South Korea is not a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) but has been invited as a partner country, along with Japan, Australia and New Zealand. Yoon will be the first South Korean president to attend a NATO summit.
On the sidelines, Yoon plans to hold a three-way summit with US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio on Wednesday, the first such gathering in four years and nine months since the last meeting in September 2017.
However, a planned one-on-one meeting with Kishida will not take place, officials said, as protracted wrangling over historic disputes, such as wartime forced labor and sex slavery, still looms large. on relations between the two countries.
Other events Yoon plans to attend in Madrid include bilateral summits with the leaders of Finland, NATO, Spain, the Netherlands, Poland, Denmark, the Czech Republic and of Great Britain; a gala dinner hosted by Spain’s King Felipe and Queen Letizia on Tuesday; a dinner with South Korean residents in Spain on Wednesday; and a lunch meeting with Spanish businessmen on Thursday.
First Lady Kim Keon-hee will travel with Yoon.
Yoon’s participation in the NATO summit will achieve three goals, including strengthening the “value alliance” based on liberal democracy with the 30 NATO member states and partner countries, according to the security adviser National Kim Sung-han.
The president will also lay the foundation for a “comprehensive security network” with NATO states and explore ways to effectively respond to emerging security threats, such as cyber and aerospace threats, and climate change, said Kim to reporters last week.
On the occasion of the NATO summit, South Korea announced its intention to establish a mission to NATO in Brussels, Belgium, where the organization has its headquarters.
During the series of bilateral summits, Yoon will discuss economic issues, such as nuclear power, semiconductors and renewable energy; seek international support for South Korea’s bid to host the 2030 World Expo in Busan; and strengthen cooperation on North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, presidential officials said.
Additionally, Yoon is expected to have meetings with the President of the European Commission and the leaders of Canada and Romania.
No bilateral meeting, including a parting, is planned between Yoon and Kishida as it is unlikely to yield results, presidential officials said, noting that the two countries have yet to hold detailed talks. about their historical differences since the Yoon administration took office on May 10.
The possibility of a bilateral summit has been the focus of media attention as it would have been the first between the two countries in 2½ years.
In his address to NATO members and partner countries on Wednesday, Yoon will recall the history of cooperation between South Korea and NATO since the two sides established a partnership in 2006, presidential officials said.
He will also talk about the evolution of Europe’s security objectives and areas of cooperation between South Korea and NATO countries on emerging security issues, and call for the interest and cooperation of NATO regarding the North Korean nuclear issue.
First Lady Kim will participate in an official program for the spouses, including visits to the Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso, a glass factory and the Reina Sofia Museum.
National Security Advisor Kim will remain in Seoul, given the security situation and concerns about a possible North Korean nuclear test.
In the event that North Korea carries out such a provocation while Yoon is out of the country, the government has prepared immediate to medium to long-term response measures under each scenario, including who will chair a meeting of the National Security Council in Seoul and how the president will connect virtually, presidential officials said.
The president will return to Seoul on Friday. (Yonhap)