President Moon Jae-in spoke on the phone with the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia, Scott Morrison, at the request of the Australian Prime Minister, for 25 minutes from 3:00 p.m. today.
President Moon began by expressing his gratitude, “I’m grateful to the Australian Government for its proactive cooperation in helping to arrange charter flights at the request of Koreans living in Australia who wished to come back to their home country – even as regular flights shuttling between our two countries are suspended.”
To date, approximately 1,000 Korean expatriates in Australia have returned home on chartered flights, and plans are underway to fly more charter flights. Even though the Australian Government has banned entries and layovers of foreign nationals in principle, 12 members of the Korea International Cooperation Agency stationed on the Solomon Islands were able to return home via Australia.
Prime Minister Morrison said that one of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 outbreak is how to bring each country’s own nationals scattered overseas back to their homelands safely. He went on to say that he is willing to provide support going forward so that Koreans in Australia can return to their home country safely. He added that he knows well how successfully Korea has responded to the COVID-19 outbreak through strong leadership. He thanked Korea for setting an example for the world and explained that Australia, too, is making efforts to emulate the Korean model.
Prime Minister Morrison said that his country needs Korea’s assistance to fight COVID-19 and requested support for the import of Korea-made diagnostic kits and medical equipment. In reply, President Moon said, “If Australia informs us of its detailed request for cooperation in regard to diagnostic kits and other quarantine supplies through diplomatic channels, we will give positive consideration to rendering assistance as domestic circumstances allow.”
President Moon said, “If the quarantine authorities and experts from both countries are willing to share their experiences, we will actively cooperate.” Prime Minister Morrison expressed his gratitude and said he would make sure to convey the President’s message to the Australian healthcare authorities.
President Moon went on to say, “I mentioned at the extraordinary virtual G20 Leaders’ Summit that it is necessary to allow the movement of essential personnel, including businesspeople, to the extent that it doesn’t undermine each country’s quarantine measures, and a consensus was reached among the participants. Since Korea and Australia, which mark their 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations next year, are important trading partners for each other, I hope that essential bilateral exchanges and cooperation will continue. I look forward to the Prime Minister’s consideration and support that will help allow businesspeople to enter each other’s country for urgent visits if they meet certain requirements.”
In response, Prime Minister Morrison expressed his agreement and said it would also be a good idea to hold a summit via video conference within this year. The Prime Minister said that he wanted to have consultations during the video summit about how to surmount the COVID-19 crisis, cooperate with vulnerable countries and advance bilateral trade relations in a stable manner.
President Moon agreed, “Holding a bilateral video summit would be a good idea. Details should be discussed through diplomatic channels.”
Prime Minister Morrison asked about how Korea is currently responding to COVID-19 and when the situation is expected to stabilize. President Moon responded by explaining in detail Korea’s quarantine and treatment methods based on the three principles of democracy, transparency and openness.
Prime Minister Morrison said that today’s telephone conversation was very useful. The Prime Minister added that he would like to take this opportunity to express his gratitude to the Korean Government for showing its consideration and support when wildfires broke out in Australia in January.