Kishida mulls joining NATO summit in Madrid

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The agenda of Kishida joining the summit is to spur coordination with the West over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, reports cited sources familiar with the matter….reports Asian Lite News

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is likely to attend a summit of NATO leaders scheduled in late June in Spain, according to media reports.

Kishida is considering attending the summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in Madrid on June 29 and 30.

NATO has already invited Japan to the summit, along with Australia, New Zealand and South Korea as its partners in the Asia-Pacific region.

The agenda of Kishida joining the summit is to spur coordination with the West over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, reports cited sources familiar with the matter.

Although Kishida has repeatedly condemned Russia over the invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow is calling a special operation, the move would mark an unusually aggressive stance for a Japanese leader.

In the past, Japanese leaders have maintained a careful line on their relations with Russia as the two countries have wrangled over decades-old territorial disputes.

A government spokesman said officials would be unable to comment on the matter, which was first reported by Kyodo news on Saturday.

The NATO summit would likely overlap with the campaign ahead of elections in Japan pencilled in for July 10.

Meanwhile, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol is also likely to attend the NATO summit in what would be his first overseas trip after assuming office last month.

“An advance team consisting of protocol and security service officials is currently on location where the NATO summit will be held,” an official at the presidential office told Yonhap News Agency.

Though South Korea is not a NATO member, the President could use his participation in the summit to demonstrate solidarity with the US and European nations in their opposition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Yoon’s attendance will also likely underscore his administration’s commitment to strengthening ties with Washington in the wake of his summit with US President Joe Biden in Seoul on May 21.

An official at the presidential National Security Office said Yoon’s attendance has not been finalised, as there are several factors that need to be considered, such as which other countries are participating.

No other countries are currently under consideration as part of Yoon’s first trip overseas, the official added.

The NATO summit could set the stage for a series of bilateral and multilateral meetings for Yoon, including a possible summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and a trilateral summit with Kishida and Biden.

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