US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday condemned North Korea for sending arms to help the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as he held meetings with top officials in key ally South Korea.

The United States, South Korea and Japan have in recent weeks repeatedly criticised Pyongyang for helping Russia pursue its military campaign in Ukraine, with Seoul saying North Korea has sent a million artillery rounds.

Blinken is in Seoul following a G7 foreign ministers’ meeting in Japan. He met with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol in Seoul on Thursday.

They “strongly condemned the provision of military equipment and munitions by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to the Russian Federation for use in its war against Ukraine”, the US State Department said in a readout of Blinken’s meeting with Yoon.

Blinken, it added, “also thanked President Yoon for the ROK’s pledge to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza”.

The top US diplomat’s Asian stops follow a whirlwind tour of the Middle East for discussions on the Israel-Hamas war.

Earlier Thursday, Blinken met South Korean national security advisor Cho Tae-yong.

He thanked Cho for South Korea’s “commitment to providing assistance to Ukraine”, according to a State Department readout.

Historic allies Russia and North Korea are both under international sanctions — the former for its invasion of Ukraine and Pyongyang over its nuclear weapons and missile programmes.

Their growing military cooperation has been a source of concern for Ukraine and its allies, especially following North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in September.

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