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Friday July 19, 2024

South Korea to ‘reconsider’ ban on weapons sales to Ukraine

By AFP
June 21, 2024
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky shake hands following talks in Kyiv. —  AFP File
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky shake hands following talks in Kyiv. —  AFP File

SEOUL: Major weapons exporter South Korea will “reconsider” a longstanding policy that bars it from supplying arms directly to Ukraine, a presidential official said on Thursday, after North Korea and Russia signed a defence deal.

Russia´s President Vladimir Putin was in Pyongyang on Wednesday for a high-profile state visit that underscored his growing ties with leader Kim Jong Un, as the two signed a “breakthrough” agreement that included a pledge to come to each other´s aid if attacked.

Hours later, Seoul said it was “planning to reconsider the issue of providing weapons support to Ukraine”, a presidential official told reporters.

Seoul has a longstanding policy that bars it from selling weapons into active conflict zones, which it has stuck to despite calls from Washington and Kyiv to reconsider.

The country, which is aiming to become one of the world´s top arms exporters, has signed billions of dollars of deals to sell its tanks and howitzers to European countries, including Kyiv´s ally Poland.

Seoul expressed its “grave concern” over the Moscow-Pyongyang agreement, where the two countries agreed to strengthen their military and economic cooperation, including immediate military assistance if either faced armed aggression.

“Any cooperation that directly or indirectly helps strengthen North Korea´s military capabilities is a violation of the UN Security Council resolutions,” national security adviser Chang Ho-jin told reporters.