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ASEAN, East Asia vow strengthened cooperation in COVID-19 pandemic

President Moon Jae-in participates in the ASEAN+3 teleconference on Tuesday. (Yonhap)
President Moon Jae-in participates in the ASEAN+3 teleconference on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

The leaders of the Associatation of Southeast Asian Nations Plus Three on Tuesday held a teleconference Tuesday to seek ways to cooperate against the COVID-19 pandemic, and adopted a joint declaration.

In the ASEAN Plus Three summit, President Moon Jae-in called for strengthened cooperation, saying the current situation requires “extraordinary cooperation.”

“This is a crisis that cannot be overcome by the efforts of individual countries,” Moon said, going on to cite examples of international cooperation among the 13 nations.

In the meeting, Moon put forward three proposals for strengthening multilateral cooperation. The proposals are cooperating in securing quarantine and medical supplies, establishing an “ASEAN-ROK Health Ministers’ Dialogue Channel” and taking steps to maintain the flow of economic and people-to-people exchanges, trade, investment and food.

“Furthermore, to the extent that we do not undermine each country’s quarantine efforts, I propose that we seek ways to allow for the travel of essential persons such as business leaders, medical professionals and humanitarian workers,” Moon said.

Going on to the matter of potential global food shortages, Moon also urged the leaders to work together to maintain food trade.

Tuesday’s event was the second teleconference on the COVID-19 pandemic among world leaders -- leaders of G-20 nations held a similar conference on March 26.

At the G-20 meeting, the leaders adopted a statement outlining the countries’ cooperative response to the pandemic. The leaders agreed to prevent unnecessary obstacles to trade and movement across borders, and to strengthen cooperation in economic and public health issues.

The meeting was followed by a conference among G-20 nations’ trade ministers on March 30. The countries are also set to hold health ministers’ and finance ministers’ meetings during April.

For Moon, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a series of telephone conversations with world leaders, as South Korea’s response to the outbreak has garnered global attention.

Since the end of February, Moon has spoken with leaders of over 20 nations and international organizations.

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