Honorable chair, Your Majesty, and Excellencies,
Today, we are making our utmost efforts to protect the health of our people and the economy against COVID-19. I find it very fortunate that the ASEAN-ROK Summit is held at a time when we are in need of closer solidarity and cooperation. I’d like to express my gratitude to His Excellency Prime Minister Phuc and the people of Vietnam for organizing the Summit in this difficult time, and my thoughts are with His Majesty Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei Darussalam who fulfilled the role of the country coordinator despite being in grief.
At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, when Koreans were going through difficulties, ASEAN showed true friendship by offering comfort when I spoke with my colleague leaders and sharing infectious disease prevention equipments. The continued exchanges and cooperation enabled by the ‘Fast Track’ and the ’Special Entry Procedures’ has empowered Korea to overcome the pandemic.
I’d like to pay tribute to the insights and leadership of ASEAN leaders who overcome crises through cohesiveness and responsiveness and create a better future whenever faced with unexpected challenges. I believe that we will be able to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic together this time as well through the ASEAN’s spirit of solidarity and cooperation.
Korea will join ASEAN in giving a helping hand to one another. Korea has shared infectious disease prevention equipments including test kits and face masks to the best of our circumstances, and Korea’s response to COVID-19 such as drive-thru and walk-thru screening stations. Korea will actively participate in the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund and the ASEAN Plus Three reserve of essential medical supplies.
This is a meaningful year that marks the 10th anniversary of the strategic partnership between ASEAN and Korea. Korea has devised the New Southern Policy Plus Strategy, based on our assessment that the vision and outcome of the New Southern Policy has benefited both ASEAN and Korea. The impact of COVID-19 varies from country to country, and no country can let its guard down until treatments and vaccines are developed and distributed to all countries. However, with the cooperation between ASEAN and Korea, we will be able to preemptively respond to the COVID-19 crisis and its entailing socio-economic changes.
The New Southern Policy Plus Strategy lays out fresh, feasible initiatives centered on the 7 key areas of cooperation including comprehensive healthcare cooperation. With this Strategy, we will be able to take the lead in the post-COVID-19 era, and realize the vision of a people-centered community of peace and prosperity faster.
Korea fully supports the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework officially launched today. I hope ASEAN and Korea will enjoy great prosperity together by combining the 5 key areas proposed by ASEAN with the New Southern Policy Plus Strategy.
At today’s meeting, I hope we will discuss joint responses to overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic and achieving economic recovery, and make our strategic partnership even stronger.