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Blinken: U.S. concerned over 'growing and dangerous' Russia-North Korea connection

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin met Thursday to discuss shared issues including nuclear threats from North Korea and the growing relationship between Pyongyang and Moscow. Photo by Yonhap
1 of 2 | U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin met Thursday to discuss shared issues including nuclear threats from North Korea and the growing relationship between Pyongyang and Moscow. Photo by Yonhap

SEOUL, Nov. 9 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday that the growing cooperation between Russia and North Korea is a matter of "profound concern" and warned that Moscow has begun providing technical assistance to Pyongyang for its military programs.

Blinken met with his counterpart, South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin, on Thursday in Seoul and said the two discussed North Korea's provocations and missile launches, as well as its "growing and dangerous" relationship with Russia.

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The White House has said that North Korea is already supplying artillery to Russia for its war in the Ukraine, and Blinken added that Moscow is reciprocating with technical military aid to Pyongyang.

"We're seeing a two-way street," Blinken said during a press conference in Seoul. "We're seeing the DPRK provide military equipment to Russia for pursuing aggression against Ukraine. But we're also seeing Russia provide technology and support to the DPRK for its own military programs."

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is the official name of North Korea.

Blinken said he and Park discussed "further actions that our countries can take with partners to intensify pressure on Moscow not to transfer military technology to the DPRK."

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North Korea is reportedly seeking help with its space and missile programs. The isolated regime has announced plans for a third attempt at placing a military spy satellite into orbit after a pair of failed launches this year.

On Tuesday, a top nuclear expert warned that Russia may also be willing to provide fissile material or technology transfers to boost the North's nuclear arsenal.

The ongoing cooperation is "a real concern for the security of the Korean Peninsula, a real concern for the global non-proliferation regime, it's a real concern for the Russian aggression in Ukraine, and a real concern for its violation of multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions," Blinken said.

Blinken arrived in South Korea late Wednesday night after attending the Group of Seven Foreign Ministers' meeting in Tokyo.

The two-day visit is Blinken's first since March 2021. He also met with National Security Adviser Cho Tae-yong and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, and is scheduled to continue on to India later Thursday.

Blinken came to Asia from his tour of the Middle East, where he met with officials in several countries on a campaign to keep the Israel-Gaza conflict from spreading throughout the region.

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Reports have emerged that North Korea may be supplying weapons and tactics to the Hamas militant group, and South Korea's Park said Thursday that Seoul was monitoring any possible links.

"If the connection is confirmed, the North should be condemned accordingly," Park said. "We are closely watching the situation in the Middle East, with the idea that the crisis in the Middle East can be relevant to the security situation on the Korean Peninsula."

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