NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg asked South Korea on Monday to “step up” military support for Ukraine, suggesting it reconsider its policy of not exporting weapons to countries in conflict. Stoltenberg is in Seoul on the first leg of his Asia trip, which will also take in Japan, as part of a drive to boost ties with the region’s democratic allies in the face of the Ukraine conflict and growing competition from China. He met top South Korean officials Sunday, and on Monday urged Seoul to do more to help Kyiv, saying there was an “urgent need for more ammunition”. He pointed to countries like Germany and Norway that had “long-standing policies not to export weapons to countries in conflict” which they revised after Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine in February last year. “If we believe in freedom, democracy, if we don’t want autocracy and tyranny to win then they need weapons,” he said, speaking at the Chey Institute in Seoul. South Korea is an increasingly important arms exporter globally and has recently signed deals to sell hundreds of tanks to European countries, including NATO-member Poland. But South Korean law bans the export of weapons to countries in active conflict, which Seoul has said makes it difficult to provide arms directly to Kyiv, although it has provided non-lethal and humanitarian assistance. South Korea opened its first diplomatic mission to NATO last year.