It’s a great pleasure to meet you all.
Last year in Busan, we committed to the 2nd Mekong-ROK Summit, and I am very pleased that today the promise has been kept. I would like to extend my gratitude to Prime Minister Phuc for successfully organizing the 2nd Mekong-ROK Summit.
I wish good health to Prime Minister Hun Sen who proposed the Mekong-ROK Summit and led Mekong-ROK cooperation. Prime Minister Thongloun, Union Minister U Kyaw Tin, Prime Minister Prayut, and Deputy Prime Minister Aun Pornmoniroth, may I offer my warmest welcome to you all.
Leaders of Mekong,
Last year, we adopted the Mekong-Han River Declaration to set a new milestone in our journey towards a community that puts people first. This year, as we respond to COVID-19, we are once again assured of our friendship and trust.
By providing face masks, anti-contamination clothing, and diagnostic kits and sharing our experiences in infectious disease control, we have reinforced cooperation in public health. Most encouraging of all is that in the face of rising concerns over economic recession caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, trading volumes between Korea and Mekong have already recovered to last year's level. Efforts for enhancing the infrastructure and connectivity in the region have been carried out consistently in tandem with various other cooperation projects.
The Republic of Korea, together with the Mekong countries, will ramp up efforts to share infectious disease control equipments and build capacity in healthcare. Through the COVAX Advance Market Commitment, Korea will contribute 10 million US dollars to help provide COVID-19 vaccines to developing countries. To ensure universal and equitable access to vaccines, Korea will work closely with the Mekong countries. We will make continuous efforts to institutionalize the essential movement of people across borders while strengthening the infrastructure and connectivity in the region.
Korea will seek to preserve the ecological integrity of mighty Mekong, the Mother of Rivers, and engage in projects at the bilateral level to alleviate water scarcity and prevent natural disasters and work jointly with international organizations such as the United Nations to this end as well. Throughout this process, the Mekong-ROK Cooperation Fund and our official development assistance will be scaled up continuously.
Respected leaders of Mekong,
Next year marks the 10th Anniversary of Mekong-ROK Cooperation and Mekong-ROK Exchange Year. Since the start of Mekong-ROK cooperation in 2011 until last year, trade between Mekong and Korea grew by 2.5 times, and the number of mutual visits increased by 3.3 times. We are indeed advancing as partners who deeply trust each other.
Today, following the milestones set at the inaugural summit, I propose that we take one step further towards a strategic partnership. Harnessing the strengths of trust, solidarity, inclusiveness and prosperity, let us join hands to triumph over COVID-19 and begin the post-COVID-19 era together.
Korea and Mekong will find a true friend in each other.