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South Korea, Southeast Asia must ‘join forces’ to counter North Korea: Yoon

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JAKARTA: South Korea and Southeast Asian nations must “join forces” to respond to North Korea’s nuclear threats, president Yoon Suk Yeol said on Tuesday (Sep 5), as Washington warned Pyongyang’s leader was set to make a rare trip to Russia for arms talks.

Yoon will meet with counterparts from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Indonesia’s capital Jakarta on Wednesday after their leaders’ summit, before attending the 18-nation East Asia Summit the following day which Russia will also attend.

In an interview with Indonesian newspaper Kompas, Yoon said North Korea’s missile launches “pose a direct and existential threat” not only to South Korea but also to its Southeast Asian allies.

“In times like these, the Republic of Korea and ASEAN must join forces to respond decisively and cooperate closely on North Korea’s denuclearisation,” Yoon said.

“ASEAN-ROK solidarity and cooperation must be enhanced further, so the rules-based international order will be able to take firm root in the Indo-Pacific region.”

ASEAN members and South Korea are expected to adopt a joint statement on regional cooperation, which Yoon said would underline the leaders’ push for a “free, peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific”.

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