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New center aims to boost ties between Korea, Asean nations

Mar 14,2009
Prime Minister Han Seung-soo, center, and Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan, next to Han, with other dignitaries cut the tape to inaugurate the Asean-Korea Centre, an intergovernmental organization of Korea and Asean member nations yesterday in Seoul. [YONHAP]

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations-Korea Centre, an intergovernmental body designed to cement ties between Korea and Southeast Asia, was officially launched yesterday in central Seoul.

The ceremony was held at the Seoul Press Center and attended by government, business and cultural figures from Korea and Asean members.

A press release said the center will “increase trade, accelerate investment flow, invigorate tourism, and enrich cultural exchanges between Asean and Korea.”

The Asean member nations are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The two sides came to an agreement for the agency in 2007 in Singapore during the 11th Asean-ROK [Republic of Korea] Summit. Their initial memorandum of understanding was accepted by all members in November 2008, according to the center’s statement.

Korean Prime Minister Han Seung-soo offered his congratulations yesterday, saying the launching of the center represents a milestone in the 20-year history of Korea-Asean relations.

“I’m confident the center will provide a strong base on which to build our relationship into a more mature and future-oriented one,” Han said.

Cho Young-jai, former Korean ambassador to Italy, is the first chief of the organization. “Our relations have been great over the past 20 years. We hope the center can play a vital role in improving them over the next 20 and even 200 years.”

The center’s decision-making council includes 11 directors appointed by Korea and Asean members. Departments will handle general affairs, trade and investment, culture and tourism, and information and data.

The center is the second intergovernmental organization in Seoul. The International Vaccine Institute was set up in 1994 under the auspices of the UN Development Programme.

By Yoo Jee-ho Staff Reporter [jeeho@joognang.co.kr]





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