Moon reaches out to bolster ties with Duterte

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Moon reaches out to bolster ties with Duterte

President Moon Jae-in conveyed his wishes to hold bilateral talks with President Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines in November through a letter delivered by Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon on Monday.

The mayor, named as Moon’s special envoy to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, met with Duterte in Davao City and emphasized the importance Moon places on the Philippines and Asean countries, according to the Seoul Metropolitan Government.

He then conveyed Moon’s hopes for bilateral talks with Duterte on the sidelines of the Asean leaders’ summit, which is scheduled to be held in the Philippines in November.

The Seoul mayor also extended Moon’s invitation to Duterte to visit Korea in the near future.

Park expressed Moon’s gratitude for Duterte’s congratulatory message after Moon won the election and the Korean president’s desire to strengthening relations with the Philippines and Asean counties.

The mayor said Moon would like to see the Philippines take part in a land development project in Southeast Asia with Korea. He further requested that Duterte take continued interest in the safety of Korean nationals living in the Philippines.

Most recently, a Korean man in his 40s was found shot to death in his house in Cebu on Sunday.

Park went on to explain Seoul’s approach toward denuclearizing North Korea and establishing peace on the peninsula, asking for the “unfaltering support and cooperation” of the Philippines and other Asean nations in that regard.

Duterte said through cooperation with neighboring countries, including China, the Philippines will work towards convincing North Korea to halt its nuclear and missile provocations.

The Philippine president also said that his country, as chair of Asean this year, plans to expand relations with South Korea and “hopes to upgrade economic cooperation,” as well.

Duterte’s meeting with Park came before he headed to Moscow for his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

On Sunday, Park met in Manila with Alan Peter Cayetano, foreign affairs secretary of the Philippines, and conveyed the Moon administration’s plans to “improve its partnership with Asean nations.”

Park will depart for Indonesia on Tuesday to deliver Moon’s letter to President of Indonesia Joko Widodo, then meet with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang on Wednesday, before returning to Seoul Friday. Asean, comprised of 10 countries, is Korea’s second largest trading partner.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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