US envoy sees ‘consistent shift’ in NATO, Asia ties amid China challenges

By Hyonhee Shin

SEOUL (Reuters) – The recent presence of four Asia-Pacific leaders at the NATO summit reflects a “consistent shift” in the US’s transatlantic security partnership that Washington wants to expand to better counter China, a senior US executive told reporters. diplomat to Reuters.

In an interview in Seoul, Derek Chollet, US State Department adviser and senior policy adviser to Secretary Antony Blinken, said he sees “great potential” for South Korea-NATO cooperation, building on past exchanges, including global exchanges. efforts. to help Ukraine and European countries participate in RIMPAC military exercises in Asia.

“I think one of the most dramatic shifts we’ve seen in the last decade has been the growing relationship between our transatlantic partners and our partners here in the Indo-Pacific,” Chollet said.

Last month, Yoon Suk-yeol became the first South Korean president to attend a NATO summit in Spain, as he seeks to play a greater global role and forge European partnerships in the face of North Korea’s evolving nuclear threats.

The participation of Yoon and the leaders of Japan, Australia and New Zealand, as well as NATO’s newly adopted strategy concept that China first cited as a concern, was “truly historic” and “the beginning of what is a very partnership,” Cholet said.

“I vividly remember ten years ago trying to talk to European allies about the importance of the Indo-Pacific and finding it difficult to give them much attention. That has fundamentally changed,” he said.

“The basis or principle of our approach to China is … alignment with partners and allies.”

Chollet also expressed hopes for stronger trilateral security cooperation between the United States, South Korea and Japan, despite strained ties between Seoul and Tokyo over wartime feuds.

The death of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was a “terrible tragedy” and “horrific murder,” but his legacy and vision for the Indo-Pacific could provide an opportunity to further boost trilateral efforts, he said.

“There’s a lot we can do together, whether it’s military exercises or global health cooperation,” Chollet said.

“We strongly believe that it is in our interest and in the interest of Japan and Korea that the two countries have strong ties,” he added, pledging to help both sides resolve disputes if necessary.

(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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