President Yoon Suk Yeol will use the UN General Assembly as a platform to urge a united response from the international community to possible military transactions between North Korea and Russia, his office said Tuesday evening.
Kim Tae-hyo, South Korea’s principal deputy national security adviser, said Yoon planned to “call the international community’s attention to the illegality and danger of military transactions between North Korea and Russia, and urge a united response” through his keynote address at the UN General Assembly in New York on Wednesday.
It would also be an occasion to explain South Korea’s contributions to Ukraine’s post-war reconstruction, Kim told reporters in a briefing.
This follows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s summit last week, seen as an occasion to strengthen military cooperation between the two countries, possibly in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. North Korean state media reported Wednesday that Kim had returned to Pyongyang on his armored train Tuesday evening after departing for Russia on Sept. 10.
Deputy Security Adviser Kim said Yoon will emphasize South Korea’s commitment as a nonpermanent member of the UN Security Council to acting responsibly, with clear principles, in matters of international peace and security.
South Korea was elected in June as a nonpermanent United Nations Security Council member for a two-year term starting next year. South Korea has served on the Security Council three times, the last time being 11 years ago, during the 2013 to 2014 term.
Missing from this year’s UN General Assembly were leaders of four of the five veto-wielding members of the Security Council — Britain, France, Russia and China.
U.S. President Joe Biden, the only leader of the permanent members to attend, “condemned” Pyongyang’s continued violation of UN Security Council resolution in his address to the UN General Assembly Tuesday, while saying Washington remains “committed to diplomacy to bring about the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
He also said that “Russia alone stands in the way of peace,” adding that Moscow’s price for peace was “Ukraine’s capitulation, Ukraine’s territory and Ukraine’s children.”
A senior presidential official told reporters in New York that while Russia has denied that any illicit activity occurred, South Korea has observed “military transactions taking place since several months before the recent meeting between the North Korean and Russian leaders.”
Noting that the five permanent members of the Security Council are divided on the Russia issue, he said that “cohesive action can be taken centered on allies and friends in solidarity over freedom.”
Earlier Tuesday, President Yoon met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and discussed global security matters, including the Korean Peninsula issue and Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Yoon said he looks forward to continuing cooperation with the United Nations to prevent Pyongyang’s provocations and to substantially improve North Korea’s human rights situation, according to the presidential office.
He also explained South Korea’s plans to contribute to establishing peace in Ukraine, calling it the biggest global issue.
The meeting took place during Yoon’s five-day trip to New York to attend the high-level session of the 78th UN General Assembly and hold some 40 bilateral meetings.
Yoon stressed to the UN chief the importance of global solidarity centered on the United Nations in today’s polycrisis era and reiterated South Korea’s commitment to fulfilling a “responsible role” befitting its international status.
Guterres said he looks forward to closer communication to resolve major international issues during South Korea’s tenure as a nonpermanent member of the Security Council, according to the presidential office.
He also reaffirmed his will to cooperate to achieve North Korea’s denuclearization and improve human rights in the country.
This marked the third meeting between Yoon and Guterres, which the presidential office described as an opportunity to strengthen the cooperative relationship between South Korea and the United Nations, including on North Korean and global issues.
Yoon also met with International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach, stressing that South Korea is well prepared to host the Winter Youth Olympic Games which begins in January 2024.
The South Korean president asked for the IOC’s continued interest and support for the successful holding of the Games so that it could “contribute to world peace and harmony in a time of conflict and division.”
Yoon held a series of bilateral meetings on Tuesday with leaders of eight countries — Ghana, Monaco, Lesotho, Ivory Coast, Belize, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Suriname. Over the course of two days, he met with 17 countries’ leaders.
In a bilateral luncheon meeting with Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, attended by the two countries’ first ladies, Yoon said South Korea is ready to help Ghana’s digital transformation. Akufo-Addo said South Korean companies have helped Ghana’s economic development and called for further strengthening of the bilateral strategic partnership.
Yoon and first lady Kim Keon Hee later Tuesday evening attended Biden’s leader’s reception at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Yoon’s bilateral summits are a part of efforts to “secure a wider playing field for Korean companies and people in all fields, including trade, investment, nuclear power plants, the defense industr y, infrastructure, semiconductors, batteries, new and renewable energy, tourism and human exchanges,” said Kim Tae-hyo.
During his UN trip, Yoon has also been unfolding diplomatic efforts to promote Busan’s bid as the Bureau International des Expositions, or BIE, is set to select the World Expo host country by secret ballot in November. Busan is up against Italy’s Rome, Italy and Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh.
“Through Busan, we can show the history, culture and future of South Korea and share our development experiences” Kim Eun-hye, senior presidential secretary for press affairs, said in a statement, saying this was a message Yoon shared in his meeting with countries’ leaders in his bilateral summits, pointing to the port city’s remarkable growth since the 1950-53 Korean War.
“In his speech at the UN General Assembly, the president plans to use Busan to explain and emphasize the direction of our country’s foreign policy, that the international community must unite around the United Nations,” she added.
She noted that Busan “symbolizes South Korea’s foreign policy stance that it will now repay the help it received from around the world with responsible contributions and solidarity with the international community.”
BY SARAH KIM [firstname.lastname@example.org]