By Park Gil-ja and Yoon Sojung
President Moon Jae-in strengthened cooperation with leaders of Asia-Pacific countries for the peace process on the Korean Peninsula and the New Southern Policy of his administration.
He discussed cooperation with heads of states who attended the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Singapore from Nov. 13 to 16.
President Moon also attended ASEAN+3, ASEAN-ROK and the East Asia Summits. He held a series of bilateral summits with other leaders, including the U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, and leaders of Laos and Brunei Darussalam to discuss support for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
While in Singapore, President Moon agreed to have free trade negotiations with Indonesia and Malaysia. Considering the fact that President Moon has been strongly pushing forward the New Southern Policy since the announcement last year, this can be considered a meaningful outcome of the latest presidential visit in terms of business diplomacy.
Other noticeable results can be found from the agreement between ASEAN and Korea to host the ASEAN-Korea special summit next year, and the idea of inviting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to the ASEAN-Korea special summit next year proposed by Indonesian President Joko Widodo.
Cheong Wa Dae Spokesperson Kim Eui-kyeom said in a press briefing that “Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said that sanctions need to be eased if we can observe North Korea’s commitment to honoring the agreement in his address at the East Asia Summit.” The presidential spokesperson said that “Leaders of the EAS shared the common understanding that denuclearization should be carried out in a peaceful manner.”
President Moon also concentrated on smart city business cooperation, one of the innovative projects of the EAS. Korea was one of the participating countries in the East Asia Summit Leaders’ Statement on ASEAN Smart Cities.
At the ASEAN+3 Summit prior to the EAS, President Moon also expressed Seoul’s willingness to cooperate to build an East Asia community, saying that “Korea will contribute more on the issues of responding to food shortages, unifying regulations among countries, cooperating in health and disaster control sectors and fostering talented workforces.
President Moon will head to Papua New Guinea, the second leg of his trip, on Nov. 16, where he will attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders Meeting. In Papua New Guinea, President Moon will hold bilateral summits with Australian PM Scott Morrison and Chinese President Xi Jinping.