1. Minister of Foreign Affairs Kang Kyung-wha attended the 9th East Asia Summit (EAS) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, held in Bangkok, the Kingdom of Thailand, on August 2, during which Minister Kang shared views on regional and international issues, including the Korean Peninsula.
○ In addition to the Ministers of the Republic of Korea (ROK) and ten ASEAN member states, the meeting brought together Secretary of State of the United States Mike Pompeo, State Councilor and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China Wang Yi, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan Taro Kono, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Igor Morgulov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia Marise Payne, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of New Zealand Winston Peters and Minister of External Affairs of the Republic of India Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.
2. Minister Kang, sternly pointing out the unfairness of Japan’s measures to remove the ROK from its whitelist announced on the morning of the same day, as well as its unilateral and arbitrary export restrictive measures against the ROK, expressed grave concerns over Japan’s decisions.
○ During the meeting, Minister Kang expressed support for open and fair free trade order that serves as a basis for mutual prosperity in the region. Minister Kang also stressed that such export restrictive measures intrinsically contravene international free trade norms including the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement as well as the spirit of G20 Osaka Leaders’ Declaration, which commits to realizing “a free and fair trade environment.”
○ Furthermore, Minister Kang called for the swift withdrawal of Japan’s measures and voiced hope that the outstanding issue would be resolved through dialogue and consultations between the two countries.
○ Participants highlighted the need to establish free trade order on the basis of multilateralism.
3. Minister Kang also highly noted the significance of the EAS as a premier leaders-led strategic forum in which major regional issues such as the Korean Peninsula, the South China Sea, regional cooperation initiatives, as well as non-traditional security issues such as terrorism are discussed in depth, and underscored the need to continuously work together among the EAS participating countries.
4. Minister Kang went on to express concerns over adverse impacts of the recent launch of missiles and projectiles by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) on the ROK government’s efforts to ease military tension and to establish peace on the Korean Peninsula; explained the ROK government’s commitment and efforts to maintain the momentum of dialogue created in regard to the Korean Peninsula after the meeting of leaders of the United States (U.S.) and the DPRK at the truce village of Panmunjeom on June 30, 2019; and asked for the EAS’s cooperation and encouragement in achieving complete denuclearization and the establishment of lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.
○ Foreign Ministers agreed on the ROK’s assessment on the recent launch of missiles by the DPRK; hailed the progress made in the dialogue process on the Korean Peninsula over the last year; and expressed support for the efforts of the ROK and other parties concerned.
5. With regard to the South China Sea, Minister Kang underlined the importance of a rules-based maritime order and non-militarization commitments, and expressed that peace and stability in the region should be maintained.
○ Ministers noted the progress in relevant consultations between China and ASEAN such as completing the first reading of the Single Draft Negotiating Text.
6. Ministers welcomed the “ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific”, which was adopted by ASEAN in June 2019 and agreed to step up cooperation in the region on the basis of main principles such as openness, inclusiveness, transparency, respect for international laws and ASEAN centrality, all of which are emphasized in the Outlook.
○ With regard to this, Minister Kang mentioned that the ROK will continue to implement its policy in a way that regional cooperation initiatives including the aforementioned Outlook as well as the New Southern Policy could be developed in a mutually cooperative and harmonious manner.
7. At the meeting, ministers noted with appreciation that statements on ‘Combatting the Spread of Illicit Drugs’, ‘Cooperation to Combat Transnational Crimes’, and ‘Partnership for Sustainability’, aiming to be adopted at the 14th EAS Summit in November this year are proper responses to the current issues faced by the international community, and agreed to continue constructive discussions to reach agreements on the texts of the statements before the Summit.