The Korea Herald


Yoon to attend NATO summit, visit Poland next week

Korea, Japan mull summit, with Fukushima wastewater likely on agenda

By Shin Ji-hye

Published : July 6, 2023 - 17:40

    • Link copied

Kim Tae-hyo, deputy national security adviser to President Yoon Suk Yeol, speaks about Yoon's visit to Lithuania and Poland during a press briefing Thursday. (Yonhap) Kim Tae-hyo, deputy national security adviser to President Yoon Suk Yeol, speaks about Yoon's visit to Lithuania and Poland during a press briefing Thursday. (Yonhap)

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol kicks off a six-day trip next week to attend a NATO summit set to be held in Lithuania, as well as visit Poland to discuss strengthening bilateral ties on economy, defense cooperation and the reconstruction of Ukraine.

Accompanied by first lady Kim Keon Hee, Yoon will leave for Vilnius, Lithuania on Monday to attend the NATO summit as an observer for the second time. He attended the collective defense alliance meeting between North America and Europe in June last year, as the first Korean president to do so, according to Yoon’s deputy national security adviser Kim Tae-hyo on Thursday.

As his first official scheduled activity on Tuesday, Yoon is slated to meet with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and hold bilateral meetings with leaders from five nations, including the Netherlands, Norway and Lithuania on Tuesday. In the evening, Yoon will attend a dinner hosted by Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda for leaders of NATO member countries and Asia-Pacific nations.

On the second day, Yoon will have a meeting with leaders of Asia-Pacific nations, including Australia, Japan and New Zealand before he participates in the NATO summit. Leaders are expected to address pressing global issues such as the ongoing Ukrainian conflict and discuss potential security threats.

Following the summit, Yoon will separately meet with leaders from northern, central and Eastern Europe, including Lithuania, the host country of the summit. The presidential office didn't provide leaders of specific countries he is set to meet.

According to Kim, the presidential office was arranging a potential bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida during the summit. His comments align with recent reports from Mainichi Shimbun, which also suggested that the two would meet.

In response to an inquiry about Korea's stance on contaminated water during the possible summit, a high-ranking official from the presidential office -- speaking on condition of anonymity -- said that the two may discuss the issue if the Japanese leader brings up the topic. "If there are any comments from the Japanese side (during the summit), Yoon is expected to underscore the principle of prioritizing our citizens' health and make necessary statements in accordance with that principle," the official added.

After concluding his activities in Lithuania, President Yoon will travel to Warsaw, Poland, for an official visit at the invitation of Polish President Andrzej Duda. Yoon is the first South Korean leader to visit the European country in 14 years since former President Lee Myung-bak's trip to the nation in 2009.

The two leaders are expected to discuss the advancement of the strategic partnership between the two countries, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.

Several other events are on Yoon's itinerary, including a business forum attended by leaders from both countries, an interaction with young South Korean and Polish individuals at the University of Warsaw and a meeting with Koreans residents in the country. Yoon will be accompanied with a delegation of Korean business leaders including LG Group Chairman Koo Kwang-mo, Hanwha Group Vice Chairman Kim Dong-kwan and Daewoo Engineering and Construction Chairman Jung Won-ju.

On Yoon's potential visit to Ukraine, an official said the office currently has no such plans.