Kang calls for 'concerted action' to end pandemic in security forum
Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha called for "concerted action" by the international community to end the Covid-19 pandemic by ensuring equitable access to vaccines, strengthening global health infrastructure and restoring dynamism to economies, as she spoke at a security forum in Bahrain over the weekend.
"Global governance was at a low point when Covid-19 struck, with trust in multilateralism and the rules-based international order already greatly eroded," Kang said in her address at Manama Dialogue on Saturday. "Indeed, to end the pandemic and prepare for the post-Covid-19 era, we need to infuse new energy into global governance with focused multilateral action."
Kang delivered remarks on the topic of "Global Governance in the Wake of the Covid-19 Pandemic" at the 16th Manama Dialogue, hosted by Bahrain and the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
Kang, who kicked off a trip to the Middle East Friday, said during her speech that Covid-19 is "a humble reminder of our interconnectedness as well as our shared vulnerability" and stressed the "critical importance of global solidarity and international cooperation."
She went on to urge "concerted action" by the international community to end the coronavirus pandemic and better prepare for future crises, including securing equitable access to diagnostics, treatments and vaccines.
Kang also stressed the need for coordinated action to rebuild economies and normalize the cross-border movement of people, starting with essential travel. As an example, Kang noted that Korea has established fast-track entry procedures with many countries including the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to streamline the arrival process and minimize quarantine upon entry for business people.
Through its "ODA Korea: Building Trust" initiative, Korea has provided coronavirus test kits and face masks to more than 120 countries and is supporting countries, including those in the Middle East, Kang noted.
Kang also introduced President Moon Jae-in's proposal in September to launch a "Northeast Asia Cooperation Initiative for Disease Control and Public Health," extending invitations to countries in the region, including North Korea.
"We believe this initiative can serve to solidify regional cooperation on public health, and bring North Korea into a regional mechanism aiming to safeguard the health and safety of our peoples," said Kang. "It will also generate positive energy for [...] my government's endeavors to achieve complete denuclearization and lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula."
Kang held bilateral talks on the sidelines of the forum with Saudi Arabian Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, who served as the country's foreign minister, as well as the top diplomats of Bahrain, Iraq and Jordan. She also held talks with International Committee of the Red Cross President Peter Maurer, which included discussions on humanitarian assistance to North Korea amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Kang flew to the UAE later Saturday and held talks with UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan to discuss a coordinated Covid-19 response and the expanding of exchanges based on their bilateral special strategic partnership. The two sides agreed to strengthen cooperation in areas including education, health, information and communications technology and science and technology, said Kang's ministry.
On Sunday, Kang visited the site for Expo 2020 Dubai next year and toured the Korean Pavilion currently under construction, meeting with Reem Al Hashimi, the minister for international cooperation and chief of the expo's organizing committee. The World Expo hosted by Dubai originally had been scheduled to launch last October but has been pushed back one year.
Kang noted that next year marks the 50th anniversary of bilateral relations between Korea and the UAE, and stressed that the Korean government will be actively supporting a successful expo next year including through holding of cultural events, according to the Foreign Ministry in a statement Monday.
South Korea last week expressed its intention to host its first World Expo in Busan in 2030 in a virtual meeting held Wednesday by the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE).
Kang later that day attended a ceremony at the St. Regis Hotel in Abu Dhabi presenting UAE Minister of Culture and Youth Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi with a "Diplomatic Service Medal" on behalf of Korean President Moon Jae-in. The award recognized the culture minister's efforts to enhance bilateral relations and launch cultural and creative exchange programs between the two countries.
Kang wrapped up her four-day trip to Bahrain and the UAE and returned to Seoul Monday.
BY SARAH KIM [email@example.com]
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