|NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference after the meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Oslo, Norway, June 1. AP-Yonhap|
By Nam Hyun-woo
President Yoon Suk Yeol will attend the 2023 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Summit in Lithuania next month, prompting speculation about another trilateral summit between South Korea, Japan and the United States.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a press conference on June 1 that "we'll have all the leaders of the (NATO's) four Asia Pacific partners, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, attending our summit in Vilnius," the capital of Lithuania.
The summit will take place on July 11 to 12 and will be the second time for a South Korean president to attend the gathering of the U.S. and its European allies, following Yoon's appearance at the 2022 edition in Spain last year.
At the summit, Yoon is anticipated to brief the European leaders on North Korea's escalating nuclear and missile threats ― including the regime's recent launch of a spy satellite ― and ask for greater support in achieving peace on the Korean peninsula.
Also, speculation is growing that a trilateral summit between Yoon, U.S. President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, may occur on the sidelines of the NATO Summit. During last month's Group of Seven Summit in Hiroshima, Japan, the three leaders met but did not hold an official meeting due to time constraints.
Along with the North Korea issue, attention is turning to whether Yoon will make statements concerning China and Russia.
China has warned Seoul about its NATO relations, saying South Korea would be unable to gain anything by participating in a summit that shows hostility to Beijing.