By Lee Hana
President Moon Jae-in on Nov. 28 hosted a bilateral summit at Cheong Wa Dae with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who was visiting Korea to attend the 2019 ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations)-Republic of Korea (ROK) Commemorative Summit.
Both leaders agreed to raise the synergy effect of Korea's New Southern Policy and Malaysia's Look East Policy.
To mark the 60th anniversary of bilateral relations next year, Seoul and Kuala Lumpur also agreed to elevate their relationship to the level of a "strategic partnership."
President Moon said, "By harmoniously combining Malaysia's Look East Policy and Korea's New Southern Policy, we've been able to expand cooperation in meaningful ways. We've worked together in responding to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, building smart cities and developing the halal food market."
"I hope to further expand cooperation in areas like information technology (IT), defense industries and health care and in developing ties between our small and medium businesses."
Mahathir said, "I welcome Korea's New Southern Policy, and I'm confident that Korea and ASEAN will become closer as a result of this policy."
The two leaders said a bilateral free trade agreement was a necessary step and agreed on further efforts to conclude the accord. They also decided to expand joint projects for the halal market and state-of-the-art technologies and to strengthen cooperation in IT, with a joint IT cooperation center due to open next year in Kuala Lumpur.
Following the summit, both heads of state attended the signing ceremony for memorandums of understanding on promoting cooperation in IT, e-government, health care, and water and sewage management.
This summit was President Moon's last of nine with ASEAN leaders on the sidelines of the ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit.