NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen has been dispatched to Seoul for high level consultations.
The official disclaimer is that this has nothing to do with the ongoing US-DPRK confrontation. “The trip was long-planned and not connected with North Korean threats of nuclear war”.
Rasmussen is slated to meet the newly-elected President Park Geun-hye, Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and Defence Minister Kim Kwan Jin.
Although unconfirmed, Rasmussen will likely also meet up with military brass of the South Korea-US Combined Forces Command.
When asked if the trip was in any way linked with rising tensions on the Korean peninsula, a NATO official candidly responded that
“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” (NATO official statement quoted by AFP, April 9, 2013)
It is worth noting that Rasmussen’s presence in Seoul coincides with the visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry.
What is at stake are high level discussions.
The presence of Rasmussen also confirms that NATO has taken on a global military mandate well beyond the confines of the so-called “Atlantic region”.
It also points to the possible military involvement at some future date of NATO member states in the Korean Peninsula.