11/02/2017 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/02/2017 03:34
It is a great pleasure to be in Seoul today. This is my first visit to East Asia as Secretary General of NATO. I have been here before but it is always a pleasure to come back and to visit the Republic of Korea.
I'd like to begin by thanking the ASAN Institute for Policy Studies for hosting us today.
Over the past week, I have visited Japan and the Republic of Korea − as well as the Demilitarized Zone. I have met with President Moon Jae-in and with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. As well as with cabinet ministers and with parliamentarians. And with soldiers.
In my meetings, one powerful message has come through again and again:
The challenges of the 21 century are too complex for any one nation to face alone.
Terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and cyber-attacks are truly global threats. Which require global responses.
I am returning to Brussels more convinced than ever that NATO's partnership with like-minded countries like the Republic of Korea are important for the Alliance.
Historically, events in this region have shaped NATO as we know it today.
The Korean War broke out just one year after the Alliance was founded in 1949.
Forcing our members to realise that war in Europe was still possible.
In response, they transformed the North Atlantic Treaty into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Literally putting an 'O' into 'NATO'.
This involved creating the Secretary General. Standing up a permanent military headquarters. And appointing a Supreme Allied Commander in Europe.
So our history and our security has long been connected with yours.
And today, we continue to share strategic interests and concerns.
NATO and our partners are deeply concerned by the threat posed by North Korea.
And we strongly condemn Pyongyang's ballistic and nuclear tests.
North Korea is working to advance its nuclear and missile technologies.
This is a clear and present danger to the Republic of Korea and Japan, our partners in the region.
It is also a threat to NATO Allies. North Korea is developing ballistic missiles capable of hitting cities both in North America and in Europe.
NATO takes that threat very seriously.
The Alliance maintains a strong deterrence posture. We have the capabilities and resolve to respond to any aggression. Our position is clear: North Korea must abandon its nuclear programme, once and for all. It must suspend the development of ballistic missiles.
And it must refrain from further testing.
NATO strongly supports a peaceful and negotiated resolution to the crisis on the Korean peninsula.
In my talks with President Moon earlier today, we agreed on the need for pressure on the North Korean regime. Robust and fully-implemented sanctions and strong political and diplomatic efforts.
North Korea must understand that complying with international law is not optional.
And that ruling by fear and menace puts the regime on the wrong side of history. In a more complex world, we need close friends and strong partners.
The Republic of Korea was one of NATO's first global partners to sign a tailor-made cooperation plan with the Alliance, back in 2012. Since then, our cooperation has ranged from Afghanistan to Somalia, and from science to cyberspace.
In the fight against terrorism, the Republic of Korea has made outstanding contributions to NATO's mission in Afghanistan.
Including by leading a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Parwan. And contributing 200 million dollars to support the Afghan National Army, with further pledges made.
In an effort to keep international waterways safe and secure, NATO and Korean ships have also worked together to combat piracy off the Horn of Africa.
Today, I'm pleased to announce that NATO and the Republic of Korea have agreed a new partnership plan. We will do more joint work on cyber defence. The Republic of Korea has now joined NATO's Malware Information Sharing Platform, allowing us to share warnings about cyber threats in real time.
We will step up our scientific cooperation. Building on work we have done with Korean researchers on sensors and on drones, and big data processing.
We can also strengthen our joint efforts in countering terrorism through information sharing and intelligence sharing. And we will have more interaction between our forces.
NATO and the Republic of Korea have now begun military-to-military staff talks.
And I welcome that Seoul has offered to send military staff to the NATO Headquarters in Brussels. So our partnership is growing broader and deeper than ever before.
NATO exists to defend the people and territory of 29 member nations. And by working with our partners, like the Republic of Korea, we will help to build and preserve international peace beyond our borders.
The Republic of Korea is a valued partner of NATO. And I look forward to deepening our cooperation even more in the future.
And with that, I'm ready to take your questions.