Yoon arrives in New York to attend UN General Assembly

Bomi Yoon

President Yoon Suk Yeol, right, and first lady Kim Keon Hee get off the presidential plane after arriving for the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Sept. 18. Yonhap

President Yoon Suk Yeol arrived in New York on Monday to embark on a five-day trip to attend the U.N. General Assembly and meet with world leaders amid signs of growing military cooperation between North Korea and Russia.

Yoon is first set to hold a flurry of bilateral summits on the sidelines of the annual U.N. gathering in a last-minute push to win support for South Korea’s bid to host the 2030 World Expo in its southeastern port city of Busan.

“President Yoon plans to widely make known our determination to carry out our role and responsibility befitting the status of the Republic of Korea in terms of solving various challenges facing the international community,” Principal Deputy National Security Adviser Kim Tae-hyo told reporters on Thursday.

“President Yoon will pledge that the Republic of Korea will fulfill its responsible role in continuing to expand official development assistance to help reduce the global development gap, supporting the efforts of climate-vulnerable nations to reduce carbon emissions and transition to clean energy, and allowing the world’s citizens to enjoy the benefits of digital technologies,” Kim said.

A highlight of Yoon’s trip will be his address to the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday.

The speech will come as last week’s rare summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Russian President Vladimir Putin has led to concern about potential military deals between the two isolated states.

“In the U.N. General Assembly address, we expect that there will be an appropriate analysis and message about the recent military exchanges between North Korea and Russia,” a senior presidential official told reporters Thursday.

“Along with individual measures we can take on our own, we’re also discussing multilateral measures we can take together with the United States, Japan and other key friends,” the official added.

In an interview with the Associated Press published Sunday, Yoon said military cooperation between North Korea and Russia is “illegal and unjust as it contravenes U.N. Security Council resolutions and various other international sanctions.”

The international community “will unite more tightly in response to such a move,” he said.

Yoon is scheduled to hold at least 30 bilateral summits on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly, including around 10 with countries that have never previously had a bilateral summit with South Korea since they established diplomatic relations, such as North Macedonia, San Marino, Saint Lucia and Mauritania.

During these meetings, Yoon will continue his push to win support for South Korea’s bid to host the 2030 World Expo, with two months to go until member states of the Bureau International des Expositions, the international body in charge of overseeing the event, cast their votes.

Busan is in a three-way competition against Rome, Italy, and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Other events on Yoon’s itinerary will include a meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, a reception hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden, and a Digital Vision Forum to be held at New York University, where Yoon will unveil plans to announce a “Digital Bill of Rights” outlining the details of a new digital order.

Yoon is accompanied on the trip by first lady Kim Keon Hee and will return home Saturday. (Yonhap)

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