Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at the State Department, Monday, Oct. 30, 2023, in Washington.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at the State Department, Monday, Oct. 30, 2023, in Washington. (Alex Brandon/AP)

The United States and South Korea “share profound concerns” over North Korea’s military ties with Russia and will counter that collaboration with action of their own, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during a press conference in Seoul on Thursday.

Speaking alongside South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin, Blinken told reporters that the two allies are concerned about the suspected export of military equipment from North Korea to Russia to use in the war in Ukraine.

U.S. and South Korean intelligence agencies in September assessed that North Korea had likely shipped more than 2,000 containers of roughly a million artillery shells in exchange for satellite support and other technological aid, according to Seoul’s Ministry of National Defense.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had traveled to Russia that month, his first trip outside North Korea’s borders in over four years, and met with President Vladimir Putin to reinforce their ties, the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported at the time.

“We share profound concerns about [North Korea’s] growing and dangerous military cooperation with Russia,” Blinken said.

Washington and Seoul are exploring “further actions that our countries can take with partners to intensify pressure on Moscow not to transfer military technology” to North Korea, Blinken added.

“This is something that we’re very focused on,” he said. “We’re working to identify, to expose, and, as necessary, to counter these efforts.”

Blinken arrived in South Korea on Wednesday evening after a two-day meeting in Tokyo of foreign ministers from the G7, the seven leading industrial nations. His visit came five days before Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is scheduled to meet with South Korean Defense Minister Shin Won-sik in Seoul on Monday.

Blinken also met with South Korean national security adviser Cho Tae-yong on Thursday for discussions “aimed at promoting safe, secure and sustainable use of outer space and enhancing the resilience of space systems,” the State Department said in a news release.

Earlier this month, South Korea’s Defense Ministry announced it will launch its first indigenous reconnaissance satellite using SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket in Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on Nov. 30.

During an August summit between President Joe Biden, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at Camp David, Md., the three leaders agreed to enhance “space security cooperation, particularly regarding threats in the space domain,” according to a joint statement.

KCNA in a report Thursday criticized Blinken and Austin’s visits and described the senior U.S. officials and as “unwelcome guests.”

“There is no doubt that the recent visits of the U.S. Secretaries of State and Defense will bring about a new war cloud in the Asia-Pacific region …,” the report said.

David Choi is based in South Korea and reports on the U.S. military and foreign policy. He served in the U.S. Army and California Army National Guard. He graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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