Greater cooperation called for with ASEAN over peace efforts
SEOUL-- Officials and scholars from South Korea and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) called Friday for greater cooperation between the two sides in spurring ongoing efforts for a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.
During a Seoul forum on the future of South Korea-ASEAN relations, they discussed a range of issues such as the 10-member bloc's role in facilitating the dialogue process with Pyongyang and Seoul's ongoing policy focus on ASEAN.
"Both South Korea and ASEAN have diplomatic ties with North Korea," Chang Jae-bok, the foreign ministry's ambassador for public diplomacy, said during the forum hosted by the Korea National Diplomatic Academy (KNDA), an entity under the foreign ministry.
"Such engagement has been proved by holding two summits in Singapore and Vietnam," he added.
Chang was referring to ASEAN's crucial logistical support for hosting the summits between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore in June last year and in Hanoi in February.
Seoul has long been pursuing closer cooperation with ASEAN countries in its efforts to persuade Pyongyang to engage in dialogue and keep the regime on the denuclearization track.
In particular, Seoul has used the annual ASEAN Regional Forum, a rare multilateral diplomatic event that top North Korean diplomats attend, to find dialogue opportunities with Pyongyang and beef up its engagement with the regime.
Kim Joon-hyung, the chief of KNDA, also stressed the importance of greater collaboration with ASEAN on North Korean issues.
"All 10 ASEAN countries have diplomatic ties with North Korea and recently played a constructive role in establishing peace on the Korean Peninsula and the denuclearization talks," he said.
Another key topic for the forum was how to further advance South Korean President Moon Jae-in's signature New Southern Policy aimed at deepening and widening ties with ASEAN, an increasingly crucial partner because of its growth potential, rich resources and geopolitical strengths.
His policy is expected to gain greater traction when South Korea hosts a commemorative summit with ASEAN in the southeastern port city of Busan on Nov. 25-26. The gathering marks the 30th year since the establishment of dialogue relations between South Korea and the bloc.
ASEAN is South Korea's second-largest trading partner in the world and consists of Singapore, Vietnam, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Thailand.
Source: Yonhap News Agency