The United Nations is behind South Korea’s efforts to denuclearize North Korea and its measures to deter the isolated country from repeating aggressive actions like another nuclear test, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Wednesday at a meeting with Foreign Minister Park Jin in New York.
The UN chief said he expects South Korea to play a bigger role in leading global initiatives involving protecting freedom and ensuring peace, a reference to Seoul’s latest Indo-Pacific strategy, which focuses on empowering Korea through stronger outside ties. New York is the first stop for Park, who will later visit Washington to chiefly discuss North Korea with his US counterpart before finishing his four-day trip on Saturday.
Earlier on Wednesday, Park met with UN ambassadors whose home countries maintain seats on the UN Security Council, a 15-member body that includes 10 countries with two-year, nonpermanent seats. The gathering was meant to lobby for South Korea’s bid to serve a term starting next year, ending the country’s 10-year hiatus from the UNSC.
Seoul is largely expected to run unopposed at this year’s election, but still needs two-thirds approval of the UN General Assembly’s member states. The election is held in the middle of every year, likely in June, to select countries replacing five member states chosen a year earlier. The five nations giving up their seats at the end of this year are Albania, Brazil, Gabon, Ghana and the UAE.
In two weeks, Park is expected to attend the Munich Security Conference, an annual gathering held in Germany that brings together decision-makers on security policy. Park could meet with his Japanese counterpart on the sidelines to discuss ending their longtime historical dispute involving Korean forced laborers, a possibility Park himself did not rule out this week when he left for the US.