Madrid Summit: Indo-Pacific leaders look to boost Nato relations
Madrid, Jun 29 (EFE).- The leaders of Australia, South Korea, Japan and New Zealand met Wednesday in Madrid ahead of a major Nato summit being held in the Spanish capital to demonstrate their collective will to enhance cooperation with the alliance.
Australia’s Anthony Albanese, South Korea’s Yoon Suk-yeol, Japan’s Fumio Kishida and New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern held a meeting in a hotel in Madrid before traveling to the summit which they were attending as the leaders of guest nations.
The South Korean president stressed the “importance” of the four-way meeting, pointing out that Seoul has been collaborating with Nato as a global partner since 2006, “jointly responding to security threats that affect international security.”
“We hope this will be an opportunity to exchange views on our roles and contributions to Nato,” Yoon said in his remarks at the meeting, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.
The Japanese prime minister, meanwhile, stressed his willingness to “discuss paths of cooperation to achieve the vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” in reference to the strategy promoted by Tokyo and Washington to counter China’s military rise in the region.
Kishida also noted that the four Asia-Pacific countries should look “to contribute in various ways to Nato, with which they share values, to cooperate for peace and stability in the international community.”
The leaders of Japan and South Korea also showed their willingness to improve bilateral relations, which have become strained in recent years amid disputes stemming from Japan’s occupation of the Korean peninsula before World War II.
Yoon also noted that collaboration between these two countries and the United States, their main ally in the region, “will become stronger if North Korea continues to advance its nuclear program,” in remarks upon his arrival at the Nato summit.
Later on Wednesday, Kishida and Yoon met with US president Joe Biden to address joint challenges such as North Korean weapons developments and Beijing’s rise.
Biden told reporters that their trilateral cooperation was “essential” to guaranteeing security in the Indo-Pacific region, particularly in the face of continued missile tests by Pyongyang.
The US leader also praised both allies for their efforts against Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.
In a statement following the meeting, the White House described the three-way meeting as “historic” and said the three leaders had discussed cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, and specifically “the evolving threat” from North Korea.
It specifically mentioned the “evolving threat” posed by Pyongyang’s “unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs.”
Biden “underscored the US’ unshakeable commitment” to defending Japan and South Korea, the statement added.
During the meeting, the US president was accompanied by his national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, and the secretaries of State, Antony Blinken, and Defense, Lloyd Austin.
Sullivan said Tuesday that the meeting was to focus particularly on “continuing threats” from North Korea, in references to recent missile tests and “other provocative activities.”
In addition to Pyongyang, the US national security advisor said the three allies would discuss “the Chinese challenge,” a factor that was also reflected in Nato’s new Strategic Concept that was unveiled at the summit on Wednesday. EFE