Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha spoke by phone with the chief of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Monday and discussed ways for greater cooperation amid the coronavirus pandemic, her office said.
During the phone call with Secretary General Lim Jock Hoi, Kang said South Korea is looking into measures that would allow special entry of businesspeople from ASEAN member states, as exemptions to current entry restrictions over the COVID-19 outbreak, to enable essential economic activities.
Explaining South Korea's virus outbreak situation and its continued quarantine efforts, she called for the ASEAN secretariat to take an active role in uniting the will and capabilities of ASEAN nations to overcome the pandemic.
She added that expanding cooperation with ASEAN in health-related fields will be a key topic for South Korea, in line with the New Southern Policy, a signature initiative being pushed for by the Moon Jae-in government to deepen ties with Southeast Asian partners.
In response, Lim agreed that ASEAN and South Korea should continue to work closely together so as to help boost economies hurt by the coronavirus outbreak.
He also expressed thanks for South Korea's $5 million provision to the ASEAN countries via a cooperation fund to provide coronavirus test kits and protective gear.
In addition to talks with Lim, Kang discussed COVID-19 developments with her Kenyan counterpart, Raychelle Omamo, later in the day. During the phone talks held at the request of Omamo, the two sides agreed to work closely to eradicate the infectious disease and to expand ties in the healthcare sector through the United Nations and other international agencies.
Omamo thanked Kang for the shipment of critical quarantine materials to Kenya and the sharing of knowhow.
South Korea has been widely lauded for containing the outbreak better than most countries by combining aggressive testing, contact tracing and quarantine measures that make use of latest technology. (Yonhap)