President Moon Jae-in spoke on the phone with President of the Republic of Honduras Juan Orlando Hernández for 25 minutes from 10:30 a.m. today. Their telephone conversation was arranged at the request of the Honduran President.
Honduras is the chair of the Central American Integration System (SICA). SICA comprises eight member countries: Honduras, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Belize and the Dominican Republic.
President Moon expressed his gratitude to the Honduran Government for having recently cooperated actively in the safe repatriation of Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) members and other Korean nationals amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. He also asked for President Hernández’s continued consideration and support for Koreans and Korean businesses in Honduras, regarding their safety and resumption of economic activities.
President Hernández replied that such efforts on the part of the Honduran Government were only natural. He went on to say that his Government would work to enable the Korean businesses in his country to resume operations.
The Honduran President then congratulated President Moon on Korea’s successful management of the COVID-19 crisis through its excellent infectious disease prevention and control system. He conveyed respect for the leadership of Korea and President Moon.
President Hernández expressed his appreciation to Korea, in particular for providing humanitarian support and sharing its epidemic prevention and control experience, which he said have proved an immense help in his country’s response to COVID-19.
President Moon replied that Honduras is a friend that has supported Korea in the international arena, adding that he hoped the sharing of Korea’s experience has been of help.
He continued by emphasizing that the international community should engage in solidarity and cooperation to prepare for the post-COVID-19 era instead of seeking individual ways to survive.
President Hernández said that Honduras has always supported Korea on the international stage and will continue to do so. He expressed his full agreement to President Moon’s comment on the importance of solidarity and cooperation.
President Hernández also extended his gratitude to Korea for its accession to the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) this year at the request of Honduras.
CABEI, the largest multilateral development bank in Central America, was established by five SICA member countries: Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala. Korea officially joined the bank in January with US$450 million in equity investment, securing a 7.2 percent stake. CABEI is headquartered in Honduras.
President Hernández also made a concrete project proposal for cooperation with Korea.
He explained that Honduras has recently installed a “Ministry of Presidential Priorities and Public Innovation promoting Digital Government ” to implement an e-government system and has been digitalizing relevant services. Noting that Korea is a leading country that has successfully established an e-government, the Honduran President expressed his hope that cooperation with Korea could expand further.
President Hernández also said that all Central American countries have an interest in e-government.
He added that Korea is highly regarded as an advanced country in electric vehicles, gas-powered cars and the agricultural sector, expressing a desire to learn from Korea’s experiences in these fields.
President Moon explained that Korea is planning on implementing a digital New Deal policy by utilizing cutting-edge information and communications technology in the post-COVID-19 era. The policy will focus on establishing digital infrastructure, fostering non-face-to-face industries and digitalizing social overhead capital services. The President noted positively that Korea’s digital New Deal policy and the Honduran Government’s e-government project could be linked to one another.
President Moon said he was looking forward to the two countries actively working together in other areas as well.
In reply, President Hernández said that Honduras and Korea would be able to carry out limitless cooperative projects as they share similar national policy directions. With both countries’ foreign ministers also in attendance, he expressed the hope that the relevant ministries and agencies would begin close discussions as quickly as possible.
President Hernández said that Korean businesses’ participation and investment in public transportation and e-government projects would be of help to both Korea and every Central American country. He also extended an invitation for President Moon to visit Honduras.
President Moon thanked President Hernández for the invitation, saying that he would urge the Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs to communicate with her Honduran counterpart accordingly.