By Diyar Guldogan
ANKARA (AA) - NATO and South Korea need to increase cooperation to counter global challenges, the alliance's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said.
"The most important message is that I strongly believe that we need to strengthen the partnership between Korea and NATO because security becomes more and more interconnected," Stoltenberg on Friday told Yonhap News Agency in an exclusive interview ahead of his visit to South Korea and Japan.
Stoltenberg added what happens in Asia and the Indo Pacific matters for Europe and NATO.
He said that NATO will remain the "regional alliance of North America and Europe," but added that "our region is affected by global threats and challenges beyond our region."
"We need to address these global threats and challenges, including the challenges coming from China, and one way of doing that is, of course, to work more closely with partners in the region," Stoltenberg was quoted as saying by Yonhap News Agency.
Describing North Korea as a global security threat, Stoltenberg said: "We see how the volunteer group, which plays an important part of the Russian war of aggression, has received ammunition missiles from North Korea."
The alliance's chief voiced his intention to invite South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol to this year's NATO summit as well, which will be held on July 11-12 in Lithuania.
Yoon's participation in last year's summit in Madrid was "historic" since he was the first South Korean president to attend a NATO summit.
In Seoul on Sunday and Monday, Stoltenberg will meet with Foreign Minister Park Jin, Minister of National Defence Lee Jong-Sup, and other senior officials. He will also deliver remarks at the CHEY Institute, and participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the national cemetery.
In Tokyo from Monday to Feb. 1, he will meet with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and other senior officials. Stoltenberg will also deliver remarks at Keio University.