ASEAN-Korea meeting stresses peace, diversity
“Our shared stake in regional peace and stability calls for much closer consultations in light of serious developments that could impact the security of nations beyond the Korean Peninsula,” Cayetano said during his keynote speech at the Lotte Hotel Seoul, where over 350 diplomats, scholars and regional policymakers from Asean nations and Korea were in attendance. “Our future endeavors should consider spending if not equal, more energy on the inter-connected political-security and economic aspects of our strategic partnership.”
He said Asean has a “clear bottom line” on the North Korea issue - to “support an environment conducive to sustainable development, social progress and improved quality of life for all peoples in the region.”
The conference marked the 50th anniversary of Asean, which includes 10 member states - Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam - as well as the Asean-ROK Cultural Exchange Year.
The theme this year is “Partnering for Tomorrow” and the conference was organized by the ASEAN-Korea Centre, Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Korean Institute of Southeast Asian Studies and the JoongAng Ilbo. Cayetano further called to look into ways of “tapping into the global supply chain and examining the Korean model as it applies to developing global Asean brands in the manner of Samsung, LG and Daewoo,” adding that “the Korean experience could teach Asean how to avoid the middle-income trap.”
The secretary added that political, security, economic and socio-cultural cooperation can provide the “foundations of a modern partnership that should continue to grow especially now that the world’s center of gravity is shifting to Asia.”
During her address, South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Kang Kyung-wha conveyed her “sincere hope that Asean will continue to be a strong supporter of the Berlin Initiative,” referring to President Moon Jae-in’s North Korea policy direction, adding that the group “has shown undivided support for our North Korea policy to achieve peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.”
She expressed appreciation to Asean for its ministerial statement on Aug. 5, which urged North Korea to fully comply with its obligations under the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.
Kang noted that Asean is Korea’s second-largest trading partner, as well as its second-largest investment destination, while Korea is Asean’s fifth-largest trading and investment partner. Kang also expressed Seoul’s hope to improve relations with Asean, expanding economic cooperation, developing more two-way, people-centered exchanges and promoting security for a “peaceful and safe new East Asia.”
Moon took the unprecedented step of sending a special envoy to Asean after taking office, she added, recognizing that “Asean is the second important region to Korea in terms of trade and investment and is also the most popular travelling destination for Korean people.”
She also recognized that Asean “is as important as immediate neighbors such as the United States and China in Korea’s external relations.”
“We all know well that Asean has made great achievements over the last 50 years,” said ASEAN-Korea Centre Secretary General Kim Young-sun, adding that with the launching of the Asean Community in 2015, it had “become a model for regional integration.”
BY SARAH KIM [email@example.com]