BUSAN -- The South Korea-ASEAN summit will serve as a venue for the participating countries to further elevate their relations to another level for the next few decades and beyond, South Korea's top diplomat said Sunday.
Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha made the remark ahead of the official opening of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit slated for Monday.
"The 30-year-old Korea-ASEAN relationship is at another point of a grand transition following the declaration of the New Southern Policy. This summit will be an occasion on which Korea-ASEAN relations can be upgraded to another level, by looking ahead into the next 30 years," she told a press briefing.
The two-day gathering brings together leaders and government officials from the 10 ASEAN countries -- Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, Brunei, Thailand, Myanmar and Laos.
Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha (Yonhap)
The session will be followed by the 1st Mekong-Korea Summit on Wednesday, joined by five of the 10 ASEAN countries in the Mekong River region.
The summit is the largest diplomatic event to take place in South Korea under the Moon Jae-in administration. It is part of President Moon's signature "New Southern Policy", which aims to deepen economic and other ties with the ASEAN nations and India.
"The Korea-ASEAN partnership, which began in 1989, has now developed into a close strategic partnership boasting a combined trade volume about 20 times what we had 30 years ago, and about 40 times larger in terms of people-to-people exchanges," she said.
"This meeting will be an important venue to check the performance of such cooperation and to lay the foundations for new cooperation."
Kang said the summit will, in particular, serve as a chance for in-depth discussions to promote cooperation in such fields as infrastructure, smart cities and the liberalization of aviation industries, as well as expanding people-to-people exchanges.
The summit will also include, for the first time, a separate session on the Korean Peninsula as part of Seoul's efforts to enhance ASEAN nations' understanding of and support for the Korean peace process, Kang added.
"The stability of peace on the Korean Peninsula is inseparable from peace in ASEAN and peace in Asia. We hope that the discussion will contribute to expanding cooperation to that end," she said.
President Moon will hold a series of one-on-one summits with the leaders of the ASEAN member nations on the sidelines of the special summit. He met with Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah in Seoul earlier in the day and held talks with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsein Loong on Saturday. (Yonhap)