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NATO, Indo-Pacific Partners Get Closer 07/12 06:21

   

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Four Indo-Pacific countries attending the NATO summit 
issued a joint statement Thursday to "strongly condemn the illicit military 
cooperation" between Russia and North Korea, showing how the military alliance 
and its Pacific partners are forging closer ties to counter what they see as 
shared security threats.

   For the third year in a row, leaders or their deputies from Japan, South 
Korea, New Zealand and Australia -- which are not NATO members -- attended the 
high-level meeting of the 75-year-old military alliance of European and North 
American countries. In Washington, they launched cooperative projects on 
Ukraine, disinformation, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.

   "We will address our shared security challenges, including Russia's war 
against Ukraine, China's support for Russia's war economy and the growing 
alignment of authoritarian powers," NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg 
said when meeting officials of the four Pacific partners. "We must work even 
more closely together to preserve peace and protect the rules-based 
international order."

   "Our security is not regional. It is global," he said.

   The White House said it welcomed the attendance of the four Indo-Pacific 
countries at the NATO meeting because the threats and challenges among the 
regions are interconnected.

   In an interview with the South Korean news agency Yonhap, Deputy Secretary 
of State Kurt Campbell said Washington wants to "institutionalize" the grouping 
of the four countries as Washington refocuses its attention in the region.

   South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol told fellow leaders that solidarity 
among like-minded countries has become more important than ever when facing 
interlinked challenges such as the war in Ukraine and provocations from 
Pyongyang.

   He said South Korea welcomed an airworthiness certification from NATO for 
Korean aircraft, which he said would ensure "mutual military compatibility."

   Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said he would promote a foundation for 
a "long, lasting collaboration" between NATO and its Indo-Pacific partners.

   Kishida told reporters that Japan and NATO would "reinforce" procedures for 
sharing highly sensitive intelligence and that Japan would conduct a joint 
exercise with NATO in the Euro-Atlantic region, according to Japanese 
broadcaster NHK.

   New Zealand signed a partnership program with NATO, though details were not 
immediately known. Stoltenberg wrote on the social platform X that it would 
take the cooperation between New Zealand and the transatlantic alliance to 
"unprecedented levels."

   The Australian government announced its largest single military assistance 
package, worth nearly $250 million Australian dollars ($167 million U.S.), for 
Ukraine.

   "The delivery of highly capable air defense capabilities and air-to-ground 
precision munitions represents Australia's largest single support package for 
Ukraine, and will make an enormous contribution to its efforts to end the 
conflict on its terms," said Australian Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles, 
who met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy along with other leaders from 
the Indo-Pacific region.

   China, which NATO on Wednesday called out as a "decisive enabler" of 
Russia's war efforts, has opposed NATO's reach into the Indo-Pacific region. It 
harms China's interests and disrupts peace and stability in the region, said 
Lin Jian, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman.

   "Don't bring instability to the Asia-Pacific after it has done so to 
Europe," he said Thursday.

   But it is Russia's invasion of Ukraine, North Korea's growing alliance with 
Russia, and China's role as the main supplier of dual-use technology to Russia 
that are driving the cooperation between the 32 NATO member countries and the 
four Indo-Pacific nations, said Kenneth Weinstein, the Japan chair at the 
Washington-based think tank Hudson Institute.

   The growing partnerships, he said, are "key to bolstering deterrence."

 
 
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