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Hybrid threats, economic coercion, other challenges drive NATO-S. Korea engagement: expert

By Yonhap

Published : June 6, 2024 - 09:40

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Delegates attend the Meeting of the North Atlantic Council with Indo-Pacific Partners on the second day of the NATO Foreign Affairs Ministers' meeting at the NATO headquarters on Apr. 4 in Brussels, Belgium. (Getty Images) Delegates attend the Meeting of the North Atlantic Council with Indo-Pacific Partners on the second day of the NATO Foreign Affairs Ministers' meeting at the NATO headquarters on Apr. 4 in Brussels, Belgium. (Getty Images)

A security expert on Wednesday cited "hybrid" threats, economic coercion and other common challenges as a driver of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's engagement with South Korea and other Asia-Pacific partners, as a NATO summit is set to take place in Washington next month.

Kristine Berzina, managing director of GMF Geostrategy North, an institute analyzing various security issues, made the remarks, anticipating that the NATO summit, set for July 9-11, will bring together the leaders of the alliance's four Asia Pacific partners -- South Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

"This summit that we are having next month is going to be a summit where we again have all of the Indo-Pacific four partners in town to participate," she said during a press meeting at the Foreign Press Center in Washington.

"There is definitely a rapid evolution of the relationship between the Indo-Pacific partners and NATO itself," she added.

Berzina catalogued a series of shared challenges that provide a foundation for conversation and engagements between the transatlantic alliance and the AP4 partners.

Among them are "hybrid" threats that potential adversaries pose by leveraging both conventional and unconventional tools, such as cyberattacks. She also mentioned critical infrastructure protection, economic coercion and space security cooperation as areas of engagement.

"The challenges that the societies are facing are very much similar challenges to what societies across the NATO countries are facing," she said.

"A common challenge is one that is the foundation for greater conversation and engagement."

But she did not foresee near-term cooperation in terms of conventional military cooperation in a "formalized" setting.

"I think there is a lot of hesitancy about having a NATO presence in the Pacific. It is questionable what the value added would be. This isn't about NATO forces, NATO ships in the Pacific," she said.

"It's instead how do these regions that have to solve similar challenges ... how do they do it together in cooperation with each other in partnership."

South Korea has deepened cooperation with the transatlantic alliance with the establishment of its diplomatic mission to NATO in November 2022 and other collaborative efforts amid North Korea's persistent military threats, China's growing assertiveness and other challenges. (Yonhap)