Lee in Belgium for summit talks

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Lee in Belgium for summit talks

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak left yesterday for Belgium to attend a meeting of Asian and European leaders and hold summit talks with his Belgian and EU counterparts. It will be followed by the signing of the South Korea-EU free trade agreement.

Lee will also meet bilaterally with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on the sidelines of the two-day Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) to open in Brussels on Monday, according to the Blue House.

The Blue House said Seoul’s plan to host the G-20 Summit in November, along with regional security, will be the main topics during Lee’s talks with the Asian leaders.

“President Lee plans to seek cooperation and support from ASEM member nations for the success of the G-20 Summit through official and unofficial talks with other leaders,” Blue House spokeswoman Kim Hee-jung said.

High on the agenda in this year’s session will be the world economy governance, sustainable development, climate change and other global issues as well as regional security conditions and the future of ASEM.

“The agenda items of the world economy governance and sustainable development are similar to those of the G-20 summit,” a Blue House official told reporters earlier. Although a dozen ASEM member states belong to the G-20, it is also important to secure cooperation from nonmember countries for the success of the G-20, he said.

The ASEM leaders will issue a statement to summarize the results of their talks, he added.

South Korea regards the ASEM, an informal process of dialogue and cooperation between the two continents, as a useful multilateral diplomacy channel to bolster its relations with Asian neighbors and European nations.

The ASEM involves the 27 EU member states, the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) as well as South Korea, China, Japan, Mongolia, Pakistan and India.

Australia, New Zealand and Russia will also take part in this year’s session as new members.

Shortly after the end of the ASEM summit tomorrow, the South Korean president will hold a summit with Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme to discuss substantive ways to expand the two nations’ partnership in economic and trade sectors and exchange views on major global issues, according to the Blue House.

“It is expected to serve as a chance for strengthening momentum in friendly ties between the two nations as they are to mark the 110th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties next year,” the official said.

Lee will also hold summit talks the following day with EU President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso on South Korea-EU relations.

South Korea and the EU will hold a ceremony to seal their free trade agreement, reported to go into effect on July 1, 2011.

South Korea and its second-largest trading partner, the EU, concluded two years of related talks in 2008. The deal that would phase out most of industrial and agricultural duties has to be approved by both parliaments.

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