Today’s summit is the first this year for both of our countries. As promised in our previous telephone conversation, it is very meaningful for us to have the chance to discuss various measures face to face to promote bilateral friendship and cooperation.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Uzbekistan’s independence. I express my respect to Your Excellency and the people of Uzbekistan for having overcome countless challenges through united strength. I also extend my heartfelt brotherly congratulations.
Our two countries established diplomatic relations in 1992, one year after Uzbekistan gained independence. Exactly 29 years ago tomorrow, we started our diplomatic ties. In 2019, Your Excellency and I upgraded our two countries’ relationship to a special strategic partnership, and we became brotherly nations.
Amid the COVID-19 situation, the amity between our two countries has deepened further. We have arranged chartered flights to continue the exchange of businesspeople and essential workers, dispatched medical professionals and established a consultation channel between the two health ministries. In July last year, Uzbek Deputy Prime-Minister Sardor Umurzakov visited Korea, becoming the first Cabinet-level official to do so since the outbreak of COVID-19. This visit served as a significant opportunity for our two nations to pull together for shared progress and joint responses against the pandemic.
Supporting young people, enhancing public health and promoting regionally balanced national development – as stressed in Your Excellency’s New Year’s Address – are goals also found in the Korean Government’s policies for an inclusive recovery and resurgence. Our two countries pursue the same ideals on various fronts, so I believe the room for cooperation is equally enormous.
Located in the center of the Silk Road, Uzbekistan had exchanges with Eastern and Western civilizations. It is a country to which Korea is very grateful as it embraced 180,000 ethnic Koreans through the power of inclusiveness. The Korean Government considers Uzbekistan the key partner in the New Northern Policy. I am confident that our two countries will be able to quickly return to normal life and make a leap forward together if we share experiences and cooperate with a commitment to mutual benefit and inclusiveness.
Today’s summit will serve as a new milestone for our mutually beneficial cooperation and common prosperity in the post-COVID-19 era. I look forward to this message of hope reaching the people of our two countries.