South Korea summons Russian envoy to protest new treaty with North Korea

by IANS |

Seoul, June 21 (IANS) South Korea summoned the top Russian envoy in Seoul on Friday to lodge a protest over a new treaty signed with North Korea that calls for immediate military assistance if either is attacked.

First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Hong-kyun called in Russian Ambassador Georgy Zinoviev to deliver Seoul's position on the "comprehensive strategic partnership" treaty inked between Moscow and Pyongyang at their leaders' summit on Wednesday, Yonhap news agency reported.

The treaty provides for military and other assistance from one side to the other "with all means" at its disposal and "without delay" if either of the two gets invaded or put in a state of war.

Article 4 of the treaty is seen as warranting automatic military intervention in the event of an attack on either country, a provision that restores the Cold War-era alliance 28 years after their mutual defence treaty was scrapped in 1996.

Kim was expected to stress that Russia's military cooperation with the North is a clear violation of the UN Security Council resolutions banning activities that would help Pyongyang's arms buildup.

He was also expected to make it clear to Russia about the possibility of Seoul providing Ukraine with arms support in response to Moscow's signing of the treaty with the North, as announced the previous day by the National Security Council.

South Korea's presidential office condemned the pact as a threat to national security in violation of UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions. It warned of a negative impact on its relations with Moscow.

After holding a National Security Council meeting on Thursday, Chang Ho-jin, South Korea's top security adviser, said that Seoul will reconsider its stance on the arms supply to Ukraine. South Korea has so far maintained a policy of only providing nonlethal aid to Kyiv.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was on a state visit to Vietnam, warned that it would be a "very big mistake" if South Korea provided lethal weapons to Ukraine.

Attending a UN session in New York on Thursday (local time), Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul said it was "deplorable" that Russia violated the resolutions that it itself has agreed to adopt as a permanent UNSC member.

Cho called on the international community to stand united against "any direct or indirect" cooperation that would help the North's military buildup that constitutes a violation of UNSC resolutions.

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