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South Korean president makes first-ever visit to Kyiv, goes to see war crime sites

by Asami Terajima July 15, 2023 12:17 PM 1 min read
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South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol visited Kyiv for the first time on July 15 to meet his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky.

Yoon, who was invited by Ukraine's First Lady Olena Zelenska in May, is paying tribute to victims in Bucha and Irpin before returning to the capital for the talks, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported, citing the Presidential Office.

The surprise visit to Kyiv comes right after both leaders took part in the annual NATO Summit in Vilnius.

Zelensky and Yoon held their first talks on the sideline of the G7 Hiroshima Summit in Japan May 2023.

So far, South Korea has only sent humanitarian and economic aid to Ukraine, citing its government policy that bans the export of arms to a country at war.

But Yoon signaled his country's readiness to consider lethal aid for Ukraine for the first time in April. In an interview with Reuters, Yoon said that his government is considering ways to help defend Ukraine just like his country received help in the 1950-53 Korean War.

"If there is a situation the international community cannot condone, such as any large-scale attack on civilians, massacre or serious violation of the laws of war, it might be difficult for us to insist only on humanitarian or financial support," he told Reuters in the April interview.

South Korea is growing its arms exports. Just yesterday, Yoon said that he reached an agreement with Polish President Andrzej Duda on an additional arms deal.

South Korea and Poland's arms deal reached $13.7 billion in 2022, which consisted of rocket launcher supplies and fighter jets, Reuters reported.

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