Yoon arrives in Spain for NATO summit

President Yoon Suk-yeol and first lady Kim Keon-hee disembark from the presidential jet at Madrid-Barajas Airport in the Spanish capital, June 27. Yonhap

President Yoon Suk-yeol arrived in Spain, Monday, to attend a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit and meet with world leaders to discuss security and economic ties on his first overseas trip as president.

South Korea is not a member of NATO but was invited along with Japan, Australia and New Zealand as the organization's Asia-Pacific partners. Yoon will be the first South Korean president to attend such a summit.

On the sidelines, Yoon plans to hold a trilateral summit Wednesday with U.S. President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, the first such gathering of leaders from the three countries in nearly five years since a meeting in September 2017.

Yoon is also scheduled to hold a series of bilateral summits, starting with the Australian prime minister and the NATO secretary-general, Tuesday. A planned meeting with the Finnish president was canceled due to a scheduling conflict.

President Yoon Suk-yeol and first lady Kim Keon-hee greet the traveling press corps inside the presidential jet en route to Madrid, June 27. Yonhap

On Wednesday, he is scheduled to meet separately with the leaders of the Netherlands, Poland and Denmark, as well as with King Felipe VI of Spain, before holding additional summits with his counterparts from the Czech Republic and Britain, Thursday.

In his speech to NATO members and partner nations, Wednesday, Yoon will talk about the history of cooperation between South Korea and NATO since the two sides established a partnership in 2006, and call for NATO's interest and cooperation with regard to North Korea's nuclear issue, among other issues, presidential officials said.

First lady Kim Keon-hee is accompanying Yoon.

Together, they plan to attend a gala dinner hosted by King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia, Tuesday, and have dinner with South Korean residents in Spain, Wednesday.

Kim will also take part in an official program for the spouses of leaders attending the NATO summit.

During the flight to Madrid, Yoon exchanged greetings with the traveling press corps on the presidential jet. First lady Kim later joined him.

The president will return to Seoul, Friday. (Yonhap)

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