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HomePoliticsNATOs Opportunity in the Indo-Pacific

NATOs Opportunity in the Indo-Pacific

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GWANGIU, South Korea, Jan 17 (IPS) - Given the tensions in the Indo-Pacific, a co-operation between South Korea, Japan and NATO sends a message of deterrence and shared liberal values. The NATO summit in Madrid in June was, therefore, remarkable in that two far-eastern states, South Korea and Japan, were invited. The invitation to the summit was driven by NATO's most important member by far – the US, an ally of South Korea.

GWANGIU, South Korea, Jan 17 (IPS) – Given the tensions in the Indo-Pacific, a co-operation between South Korea, Japan and NATO sends a message of deterrence and shared liberal values.

The year 2022 was pivotal for the West and the NATO military alliance. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s mounting military threats against Taiwan forced NATO to recalibrate its risk analysis.

The NATO summit in Madrid in June was, therefore, remarkable in that two far-eastern states, South Korea and Japan, were invited. While Japan already has the status of a Western actor within the framework of the G7, the invitation to South Korea to attend the summit was particularly surprising.

Although Seoul has been a global partner of NATO since 2006, co-operation to date has been essentially diplomatic. South Korea had already been invited to NATO meetings of foreign ministers several times before, but this had not led to any geopolitical commitment on its part to NATO or Europe.

But circumstances have changed. The invitation to the summit was driven by NATO’s most important member by far – the US, an ally of South Korea. Does this mean that Japan and South Korea will now take on new significance for Europe and the Far East in terms of security policy?

There was immediate praise for the Indo-Pacific strategy from Washington.

On 28 December, the South Korean government under new President Yoon Suk-yeol published a strategy for the Indo-Pacific region for the first time. It stated that the country’s focus should be on promoting freedom, peace and prosperity through the creation of a rules-based order and co-operation on the rule of law and human rights.

The 43-page document includes only one paragraph on China, Seoul’s

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