Korean envoys praise global kinship from MIKTA

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Korean envoys praise global kinship from MIKTA

Korea closely conferred with Australia before deciding to join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), according to Korean Ambassador to Australia Kim Bong-hyun, an obvious move considering both are fellow members of MIKTA, a group of five middle-power countries.

MIKTA officially launched in September 2013 as an informal platform for cooperation and consultation among Mexico, Indonesia, Korea, Turkey and Australia.

“In the process of deciding to participate in the AIIB, Korea and Australia consulted with each other closely,” Kim said in a press conference with other Korean ambassadors to MIKTA nations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in central Seoul. “It is because we have similar interests, but there was also this aspect of wanting to respond together because we are both MIKTA countries.”

After much deliberation, Korea informed Beijing of its decision to join the AIIB last week as a founding member. The same week, Australia also decided to join the multinational financial institution to meet Beijing’s March deadline.

“I also constantly consulted with the Australian government, and the Australian Ambassador to Seoul, likewise, did the same,” Kim said. “There was also discussion between both nations’ foreign ministers.”

“There was communication between [our] leaders. When I see this, I think if we were not both members of MIKTA, we would not have made such efforts,” he continued, indicating that President Park Geun-hye had conversed with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on the issue.

Korea and other U.S. allies have been hesitant to take part in the bank for fear of straining ties with Washington.

The AIIB is seen as a potential rival to the World Bank or the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which are led by Japan with U.S. support.

He added that both leaders were especially close at the Group of 20 Summit held November in Brisbane.

“There was a lot of consideration by Australia toward President Park in terms of seating and lodging,” Kim said, “to the point where other countries might question why such special courtesy was afforded only to Korea.”

Korean Ambassador to Indonesia Cho Tai-young added, “There is one thing that Indonesians are regretful about toward Korea, and that is the visa issue. When arriving in Indonesia, Koreans may get a visa on arrival at the Jakarta Airport, but that is not the case in Korea.”

The Indonesian government has expressed disappointment that such consideration has not been made, he said.

“Currently Indonesia is looking to expand its list of no-visa countries, and while there has yet to be an announcement,” Cho said, “then if we are included, that is a perk from being a fellow MIKTA nation.”

Cho Yun-soo, the Korean ambassador to Turkey, also spoke at the conference.

“One of Turkey’s key diplomatic policies is to expand its influence and voice in foreign affairs, and it recognizes that MIKTA is a good mechanism for this,” he said. “While MIKTA is not widely known to people, we have had three foreign ministers meet in a year, and it has provided an impetus for vice-ministerial and high-level meetings to take place.”

New Ambassador to Mexico Chun Bee-ho additionally expanded on the benefits of MIKTA membership.

“Mexico, as a major country in Central and South America, is leading in revitalizing the [region’s] economy, along with Chile, Peru and Colombia. Mexico wants to cooperate with MIKTA countries to become more active in boosting trade and investment.”

A foreign ministers’ meeting among the five countries is scheduled for next month.

BY YOO JEE-HYE, SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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