Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne and Minister for Defense Peter Dutton, I welcome you to Korea and to Cheong Wa Dae. I am also very glad to meet Australian Ambassador to Korea Catherine Raper and the other delegation members.
In the year that marks the 60th
anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between our two countries, Australia’s top foreign and defense officials are visiting Korea. This attests to Australia’s strong determination to honor relations with Korea and further cement our strategic partnership. Korea, too, highly values diplomatic and security cooperation with Australia.
On the sidelines of the last G7 Summit, Prime Minister Morrison and I agreed to upgrade our bilateral relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership. I hope that the foreign and defense ministers of our two countries will discuss the specific details at their meeting today.
We are grateful to Australia, whose troops participated in the Korean War and shed blood alongside us to safeguard Korea’s peace and liberty. Since then, our two countries have developed together, pursuing the same goals while sharing the same values such as democracy, human rights and the rule of law. As middle powers and exemplary democratic countries that represent the Asia-Pacific region, Australia and Korea should strengthen strategic communication in various pending global issues, including infectious disease responses, the climate and environment as well as disarmament and non-proliferation.
Australia is our largest trading partner in Oceania, and Korea is Australia’s fourth largest trading partner. In 2019, before the COVID-19 outbreak, vibrant people-to-people exchanges resulted in 440,000 people traveling between our two countries. Around 150,000 ethnic Koreans have taken root in your country.
I look forward to our two countries growing even closer and bilateral exchanges and cooperation being revitalized. I hope that this Korea-Australia Foreign and Defense Ministers’ Meeting will help further deepen our strategic partnership.