1. Minister Kang Kyung-wha attended the 20th ASEAN-ROK Ministerial Meeting in Manila, the Philippines, on August 6 in her capacity as co-chair, and exchanged views on ways to elevate the ROK-ASEAN relations to a higher level, as well as regional and global situations, including the North Korean nuclear issue.
2. Minister Kang said that the ROK government demonstrated its willingness to elevate its relations with ASEAN to a level similar to those of its relations with four neighboring countries by sending an envoy to ASEAN immediately after the inauguration of the government for the first time in history, and hoped to have in-depth discussions on ways to elevate the bilateral relations to a higher level at the ASEAN-ROK Ministerial Meeting.
o Ministers from ASEAN countries took note of the ROK government’s position of placing importance on ASEAN, and expressed appreciation to the ROK side for actively supporting the creation of the ASEAN community, focusing on enhancing connectivity within ASEAN and reducing the development gap.
3. More specifically, Ministers from the two sides agreed on the need for the ROK and ASEAN to pursue sustainable co-prosperity, expand two-way cultural and people-to-people exchanges where the people play a major part, and work together to build a peaceful and safe East Asia. Acknowledging the need, the two sides decided to continue communications and consultations through diplomatic channels and devise concrete measures to elevate the ROK-ASEAN “strategic partnership” to a higher level.
o (Sustainable co-prosperity) Sharing the view that economic cooperation between the ROK and ASEAN should be mutually-beneficial one that drives each other’s growth and prosperity, the two sides agreed to work to create a virtuous cycle where the ROK supports the development of the ASEAN community, and ASEAN’s economic growth again facilitates economic cooperation between the ROK and ASEAN.
o (Two-way cultural and people-to-people exchanges where the people play a major part) Noting that the ASEAN community’s vision of “people-oriented” or “people-centered” is in line with the ROK government’s governing philosophies, including “people-centered diplomacy” and “people-centered economy,” the two sides agreed to expand cultural and people-to-people exchanges where the people of the two sides actively play leading roles.
o (Peaceful and safe East Asia) The two sides shared the view that as the recent situation in Malawi has shown, non-traditional threats, including terrorism, are increasing in the region, and agreed on the need for the ROK and ASEAN to expand the scope of security cooperation to cover such areas as terrorism, transnational crime, cyberspace and maritime affairs.
4. Furthermore, Minister Kang explained the significance of the opening ceremony of an ASEAN cultural center and the 7th ROK-Mekong Foreign Ministers’ meeting, to be held in Busan, the ROK, on September 1, and asked for the ASEAN side’s active interest and participation.
o Ministers from ASEAN countries expressed appreciation to the ROK government for opening the ASEAN cultural center, and hoped that the center will become a hub which helps the people of the two sides better understand each other and expand two-way cultural exchanges.
5. Minister Kang took note that ASEAN countries, paying much attention to the resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue and the establishment of peace on the Korean Peninsula, have been playing active roles, including sending strong messages to North Korea and faithfully implementing relevant Security Council resolutions.
o Upon the request of a number of ASEAN member countries, Minister Kang provided detailed explanations on President Moon Jae-in’s Berlin Initiative and a proposal to North Korea made on July 17 to follow up on the initiative, and asked for ASEAN countries’ continued support and cooperation to induce North Korea to stop provocations and nuclear and missile development, and take the path towards denuclearization.
6. Ministers from ASEAN countries stressed again ASEAN’s united will, expressed in a separate statement on the Korean Peninsula issue adopted at the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meeting on August 5, and expressed full support for the ROK government’s efforts to improve inter-Korean relations and establish a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula. They also said that in response to the ROK government’s policy of placing importance on ASEAN, they will actively work to make constructive contributions to addressing the issue.
7. The ASEAN-ROK Ministerial Meeting served as an opportunity to elevate the ROK-ASEAN strategic partnership to a level similar to those of the ROK’s relations with its four neighboring countries on the occasion of the inauguration of the new ROK government and the 50th anniversary of ASEAN, and thereby expand the ROK’s diplomatic horizons and facilitate its efforts to diversify diplomacy.
* unofficial translation