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[ASEAN-Korea summit] Moon begins week of ASEAN diplomacy with Brunei, Singapore summits

Korea seeks to strengthen ties with ASEAN through commemorative summit

President Moon Jae-in held summit meetings with the leaders of Brunei and Singapore over the weekend, kicking off a flurry of bilateral and multilateral summits held on the occasion of the ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit and the first Mekong-Korea summit.

On Sunday, Moon met with Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, who is visiting Korea on a state visit, in Seoul. 

President Moon Jae-in and Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah shake hands at the presidential office on Sunday. Yonhap
President Moon Jae-in and Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah shake hands at the presidential office on Sunday. Yonhap

“The potential for cooperation between the two countries is limitless, from ICT, smart city, electronic government and other high-tech industries to defense and defense industry,” Moon said at the meeting, saying that the two countries’ cooperation should expand beyond energy and infrastructure.

“If (Brunei’s) Vision 2035 and our New Southern Policy are carried out in harmony, (the two countries) could expand the scope of cooperation to new industries of the future and achieve shared prosperity.”

Vision 2035 is Brunei’s economic growth strategy, and the New Southern Policy is one of Moon’s main foreign policies that aims to significantly boost Seoul’s economic and political cooperation with ASEAN.

The Bruneian leader echoed Moon, saying that Korea is an important partner of ASEAN and that Brunei will seek ways to expand Seoul’s cooperation with ASEAN and his country.

Following the summit, the two leaders attended the signing ceremony for three memorandums of understanding on Korea-Brunei cooperation.

The two sides agreed to seek closer cooperation on Sunday in the areas of information and communication technology, electronic government systems and fields related to building smart cities.

The Moon administration’s New Southern Policy -- whose scope includes India -- is central to the ASEAN-Korea summit.

According to Joo Hyung-chul, Moon’s chief economic adviser and head of the New Southern Policy committee, the leaders attending the summit conference will adopt a joint Korea-ASEAN vision that will lay the foundation for future cooperation among the countries.

A day ahead of the Brunei summit, Moon kicked off the series of summits with Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The Korea-Singapore summit was also followed by a signing of memorandums on smart city cooperation and pharmaceuticals production and quality control standards. The two sides also signed revised memorandums on cooperating in the fields of cybersecurity and standardization.

In addition to the leaders of Brunei and Singapore, Moon is set to hold bilateral meetings with seven other heads of states attending the ASEAN-Korea and Mekong-Korea summits.

On the sidelines of the ASEAN-Korea summit on Monday and Tuesday, Moon will meet with the leaders of Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and the Philippines, in Busan.

On Wednesday, Moon and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc will hold a summit in Seoul after wrapping up the Mekong-Korea summit in Busan earlier in the day.

The week of ASEAN diplomacy will end Thursday with Moon meeting Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in Seoul.

A summit meeting between Moon and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen was canceled and replaced with a foreign ministers’ meeting between Seoul’s Kang Kyung-wha and her counterpart, Prak Sokhonn. According to Cheong Wa Dae, the Cambodian prime minister is unable to attend the summit, as his mother-in-law is in a critical condition.

By Choi He-suk (cheesuk@heraldcorp.com)
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