President to tour Thailand, Myanmar and Laos

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President to tour Thailand, Myanmar and Laos

Korean President Moon Jae-in plans to make a tour of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos as part of his key diplomatic initiative of strengthening Seoul’s partnerships with Southeast Asian nations, the Blue House said Sunday.

With the weeklong trip to begin Sept. 1, Moon will fulfill his promise to visit all the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) during his presidency.

His administration has endeavored hard to improve ties with Asean, highlighted by its New Southern Policy, in a bid to broaden Korea’s diplomatic base.

In particular, Moon is scheduled to host a special summit with his counterparts from the Asean members in Busan on Nov. 25-26.

The following day, he will also hold a separate summit there with five Asean countries located along the Mekong River - Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand.

Moon will start his upcoming tour of the region with an “official visit” to Thailand for talks with Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.

Summit agenda items include ways for “substantive cooperation” between the two sides on creating new growth engines.

Moon will also request Bangkok’s support for the November summit sessions, as it serves as the rotating chair of Asean this year, according to Blue House spokesperson Ko Min-jung.

Moon will then head to Myanmar on Sept. 3 to meet with its state councilor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint.

They plan to discuss cooperation on “sustainable win-win growth” of the two nations and “systemic” support for more Korean firms to do business in Myanmar, Ko said.

Moon will start a three-day trip to Laos on Sept. 5 for a series of meetings with President Bounnhang Vorachith and Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith.

Among main issues to be discussed are partnerships in hydroelectric power and Seoul’s efforts to improve the living standards of Laotian people.

Ko said the three countries are a “key pillar” of the New Southern Policy and core partners for the success of the November special summits.

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