MANILA: Delivering brief remarks at the opening of his first ASEAN-Republic of Korea summit on Monday (Nov 13), South Korean president Moon Jae-In said that he is determined to bring relations between his country and ASEAN to new heights.
Mr Moon was speaking on the sidelines of the 31st ASEAN summit, while on his first tour of Southeast Asia since he took office in May this year. He said that it is the right time for closer ties.
“As ASEAN and Korea are both entering an era of new leaps in development, I believe it is the most appropriate time to upscale the level of bilateral cooperation,” he said. He looked forward to seeing the meeting as the beginning of a bigger future for Korea-ASEAN relations, he added.
While North Korea's nuclear programme was a dominant topic across the ASEAN summit and related events, Mr Moon did not address the issue in his opening remarks. For seven decades South Korea has been a close ally of the United States, where fears of an attack by North Korea are mounting.
The South Korean president said an “enhanced cooperation in breadth and depth” between ASEAN and South Korea would “bring out new benefits and prosperity on both sides.”
South Korea supports the efforts towards the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, a roadmap that outlines how members will collectively achieve political security, economic cooperation and socio-cultural cohesion by working together, he said.
The country wishes to play a role as a key partner in achieving such a community, Mr Moon said.
MR MOON'S SPECIAL ENVOY TO ASEAN SET TONE FOR SUMMIT: DUTERTE
To this end, Mr Moon said he dispatched an envoy to ASEAN, just after the inauguration of his government, noting that he was the first Korean president to do so.
In his remarks, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said that Mr Moon doing so set the tone of the summit.
“The ASEAN-Republic of Korea ties have grown over the past 28 years with a dialogue relationship elevated to a strategic partnership for peace and prosperity,” he said.
He added that “latest statistics”, showed “robust” ties between the regional bloc and South Korea.
Mr Moon, who paid tribute to the “magnificent achievements” made by ASEAN during the past five decades, said: “ASEAN has made steady progress in its integration even in a complex global circumstances, and has an elevated position in the international community.”