NATO head Rasmussen to visit South Korea

NATO head Rasmussen to visit South Korea

BRUSSELS - Agence France-Presse
NATO head Rasmussen to visit South Korea

NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen. AA photo

NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen will visit South Korea later this week, the military alliance said Tuesday, stressing the trip was long-planned and not connected with North Korean threats of nuclear war.

Rasmussen will meet newly-elected President Park Geun-hye, Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and Defence Minister Kim Kwan Jin on Thursday and Friday, a brief statement said.

Asked if the trip was linked with rising tensions on the Korean peninsula, a NATO official said the trip "had been planned for some time." Rather than the current crisis, it would instead cover Afghanistan where non-member South Korea has contributed some 350 troops to NATO-led forces fighting the Taliban, and cooperation in general between the two sides, the official said.

In the latest of a long series of bellicose statements, North Korea warned Tuesday that the Korean peninsula faced "thermo-nuclear" war and advised foreigners in South Korea to consider leaving.

North Korea has steadily ramped up its war rhetoric in recent months, claiming that the United States planned to attack it and that it was ready to use nuclear weapons against its longstanding foe.

Rasmussen will meet the press in South Korea late Thursday and then travel to Japan April 13-16, the NATO statement added.