President Moon Jae-in spoke on the phone with His Majesty the King of the Belgians, at the request of the Belgian King, for 20 minutes from 4:30 p.m. today.
President Moon began by conveying his sympathy and condolences regarding the considerable number of confirmed cases and deaths caused by the COVID-19 outbreak in the Kingdom of Belgium. The President noted the fact that Belgium has made strong responses under the leadership of His Majesty by transitioning its caretaker government to an emergency government and establishing an economic crisis response team.
His Majesty the King of the Belgians replied by expressing his gratitude and saying that he respects Korea’s epidemic prevention efforts and responses that have become examples of success worldwide.
His Majesty went on to say that Belgium has cherished Korea since the kingdom participated in the Korean War 70 years ago and that he was grateful to the Korean Government for providing face masks to the Korean War veterans in Belgium. He added that he is also thankful for the recent arrival of Korea-made diagnostic kits, which have recently arrived in Belgium.
A total of 3,498 Belgian soldiers fought for the Republic of Korea during the Korean War, and among them, 99 were killed, 336 injured and four were reported missing. His Majesty once served in Belgium’s 3rd Parachute Battalion, which took part in the War.
The Korean Government provided 20,000 face masks to Belgium as part of its project to send masks to Korean War veterans in 22 countries.
President Moon said, “Though it was not much, I’m pleased by the fact that Korea could give some aid to Belgium, which provided reliable help when our country was in need.”
The President continued, “In mid-April, 11 Koreans who were stranded in Mali in West Africa made safe return home through a Belgian military aircraft. I extend my gratitude once again to Your Majesty for active cooperation and support.”
His Majesty responded by saying that it is only natural to help, given the friendly ties between the two countries, and he sought President Moon’s opinion about how the world should respond to the COVID-19 situation going forward.
President Moon emphasized the importance of close cooperation and solidarity in the international community in order to overcome COVID-19. The President went on to say that Korea is actively sharing with the international community the experiences and clinical data it has accumulated in the process of epidemic prevention and medical treatments and also plans to continue global cooperation for the development of a vaccine and treatments.
President Moon said, “I believe that international solidarity and cooperation are necessary not only for the present but also for the future to prepare for a new wave of infections that might arise going forward.”
The President added, “I ask for Your Majesty’s consideration so that essential exchanges between the two countries’ businesspeople can continue to ease the economic impact caused by the COVID-19 outbreak – to the extent that epidemic prevention measures are maintained.”
His Majesty expressed gratitude for the clear explanations and added that he would deliver President Moon’s valuable messages to the Belgian Government. The King also said that he is looking forward to meeting with the President as soon as the COVID-19 nightmare ends.
President Moon said, “Next year marks the 120th anniversary of the establishment of our diplomatic relations, and I hope that bilateral exchanges will be revitalized as soon as the COVID-19 outbreak is brought under control. I will be looking forward to meeting with Your Majesty again once Belgium successfully overcomes the COVID-19 outbreak.”