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NATO to defer decision on Tokyo liaison office

10 July 2023 09:30 (UTC+04:00)
NATO to defer decision on Tokyo liaison office

NATO is poised to defer its decision on establishing a liaison office in Tokyo until autumn or later, Nikkei has learned, Azernews reports.

The North Atlantic military alliance initially planned to enshrine the establishment of the Tokyo office in documents to be adopted at NATO's two-day summit beginning Tuesday in Lithuania.

But France has opposed the idea, caring for relations with China, and the unanimous agreement of all 31 members needed for the decision appears unlikely. The bloc will work to finalize the decision by the year-end.

The proposal for the Tokyo office was spearheaded by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. The U.S.-led alliance wants to have a liaison site in Japan -- NATO's partner in Asia -- and deepen security cooperation with democratic countries such as South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

A source close to the French presidential office told reporters on Friday it would be inappropriate for the bloc -- the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, created to provide collective defense in Europe and North America -- to open an office in the Indo-Pacific region.

But some NATO leaders including Stoltenberg and U.S. President Joe Biden regard countering China -- which is seen as strengthening its military by deepening ties with Russia -- as crucial for their security. In newer areas of security such as cyberwarfare and disinformation, China could threaten the U.S. and Europe.

Such concerns are pushing NATO to enhance cooperation with U.S. allies Japan and South Korea. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol will attend the NATO summit this week.

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