THE South Korea and the European Union agreed today to begin strategic dialogue among their top diplomats on developing a security partnership, according to a joint statement, amid tensions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its nuclear threats North Korea.

South Korean President Yun Suk-yeol held a summit in Seoul with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel, during which the leaders also agreed to strengthen cooperation in areas such as climate change , health and supply chains.

“South Korea and the EU are important partners who share the universal values ​​of freedom, human rights and the rule of law,” Yun said at a joint press conference.

Yun has been pushing for stronger security ties with Europe and other US allies to address global challenges, including the conflict in Ukraine and tensions over China’s stance on Taiwan. He also wants cooperation to curb North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

In today’s talks, which mark the 60th anniversary of bilateral relations, Yun and EU leaders in a joint statement condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a serious violation of international law. They also criticized North Korea’s continued efforts to develop a nuclear arsenal and Pyongyang’s threats of possible use of nuclear weapons against South Korea.

“Russia must stop its aggression and immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all its military forces from the entire territory of Ukraine”the statement said.

At the press conference, von der Leyen thanked Yun for the financial and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

Yun and European leaders also called for freedom of overflight and navigation in the South China Sea as well as peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, saying they oppose any unilateral actions to change the status quo in the Indo-Pacific region.

South Korea and the EU will also strengthen cooperation on economic security, including early warning systems to identify and address potential problems in the supply chains of key industries such as semiconductors.

On other global issues, a “green partnership” will be created with the EU to push for an environmentally friendly transition, officials said in the announcement, warning that the planet’s triple crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution is an ‘existential threat’. The two sides also reached an agreement to strengthen cooperation in health, under which they will work together to identify and respond to health threats while assisting each other in their prevention and response.