On the sidelines of the 2018 APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, President Moon Jae-in met with Prime Minister Peter O’Neill of Papua New Guinea, who chaired the APEC event. At the bilateral meeting this morning, the two leaders reviewed friendly cooperation between the two countries and discussed a wide range of pending binational and multilateral issues in depth, including recent developments on the Korean Peninsula as well as how to promote substantive bilateral cooperation and work together with the Pacific island states.
President Moon began by congratulating the Government of Papua New Guinea and Prime Minister O’Neill on their successful preparations of such a large-scale international event as the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting. The President went on to express the hope that this event would serve as a springboard for elevating the standing of Papua New Guinea and other Pacific island countries in the international arena.
The two leaders noted that Korea and Papua New Guinea have stepped up cooperation in various areas since establishing diplomatic ties in 1976. They also agreed to expand mutually beneficial trade and investment; strengthen cooperation in the energy and port infrastructure sectors; and further maritime and fishery collaboration in Oceania, a treasure trove of maritime resources.
Prime Minister O’Neill said his country had great potential with abundant natural resources, including minerals, oil and gas, as well as rich tourism resources deriving from its ethnic diversity. The Prime Minister added that if Korea's expertise and capital were injected into his country, it would be able to achieve rapid economic growth.
In response, President Moon said, "As one of the key nations among the island states in the Pacific, Papua New Guinea can strengthen cooperation with Korea in various areas, including trade, investment, infrastructure building and the fishing industry. I hope the Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (IPPA), a long-term subject of consultation between our two countries, will be concluded as soon as possible and thus lay the institutional foundation for expansion of investments. If that happens, Korean businesses' advance into Papua New Guinea will increase further." Prime Minister O’Neill replied by saying that he would review related matters to ensure that the IPPA between the two countries is concluded at the earliest date possible.
President Moon and Prime Minister O’Neill noted with admiration how the island countries of Oceania have been playing a leading role in raising international awareness of climate change as they are heavily influenced by the issue. Concerning this matter, they agreed to work closely together at the bilateral level and through such international organizations as the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) and the Green Climate Fund (GCF).
President Moon stressed that Korea was putting high emphasis on cooperation with island states in Oceania, including Papua New Guinea, expressing the hope that communication and cooperation between Korea and Pacific island countries would grow firmer going forward.
President Moon also explained about the latest developments on the Korean Peninsula, including the results of the inter-Korean summits, and asked for Papua New Guinea’s continued support for the Korean Government’s efforts to achieve complete denuclearization and establish a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
The visit to Papua New Guinea by President Moon is the first by a Korean president since the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two nations. It is considered to have increased interests in bilateral relations and solidified the foundation for bilateral exchanges and cooperation to grow further.