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SEOUL: South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol will push for a stronger response to North Korea’s missile and nuclear programmes at summit talks this week, arguing that the weapons pose an existential threat to the region, he told media.

Yoon will leave on Tuesday for an Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Indonesia and later in the week he will travel to India for a meeting of G20 leaders.

“The Republic of Korea and ASEAN must join forces to respond decisively and cooperate closely on North Korea’s denuclearisation,” Yoon told Indonesia’s Kompas newspaper in an interview published on Tuesday.

“North Korea’s ever-increasing missile provocations and nuclear threats pose a direct and existential threat to ASEAN member states as well,” he said.

Yoon said South Korea and the 10-member ASEAN must enhance their cooperation “so the rules-based international order will be able to take firm root in the Indo-Pacific region”.

ASEAN members will be joined at their summit this week by leaders and senior officials of other countries including the United States, Japan, South Korea, China and Russia.

Yoon will also meet Indonesian President Joko Widodo, an official in Yoon’s office said.

Yoon told Kompas it was time to put relations between South Korea, Japan and China “back on track” but the official in his office said it was unlikely there would be time in Jakarta for a three-way meeting between those leaders but talks were expected later in the year.

With ASEAN and India accounting for 21% of South Korea’s exports, Yoon would promote exports in the nuclear, defence and infrastructure sectors during his trips to Indonesia and India, an official in Yoon’s office told a briefing last week.

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