1. As part of his Central Asia tour to mark the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Korea and Central Asian countries and the 80th anniversary of the settlement of ethnic Koreans in those countries in 2017, Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung-nam visited Tajikistan after his trip to Kyrgyzstan. In Tajikistan, he hosted a reception on September 28 in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the ROK-Tajikistan diplomatic relations; and paid a courtesy call on Deputy Prime Minister Azim Ibrohim and held a bilateral meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister Nizomiddin Zohidi on September 29.
2. In his meetings with the Deputy Prime Minister and the Deputy Foreign Minister of Tajikistan, Vice Minister Lim, hailing the progress in the ROK-Tajikistan relations in political and social affairs, economy, culture and various other sectors since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1992, stressed that the ROK government will seek to enhance its ties with Tajikistan and the other Central Asian countries pursuant to its new northern policy.
° The Vice Minister noted with emphasis that under the current circumstances, where the North Korean nuclear issue has become the biggest security issue of the international community, as demonstrated by its sixth nuclear test on September 3, it is the time for Tajikistan and the rest of the international community to work closely together in pressuring the North to return to the negotiating table as soon as possible. Extending appreciation to the Tajik government for its strong support for the ROK government’s policy toward the North, he suggested that the ROK and Tajik governments remain highly cooperative with each other in terms of their North Korea policies.
° In addition, the Vice Minister asked Tajikistan to take an active part in the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
3. Deputy Prime Minister Azim Ibrohim expressed gratitude to Vice Minister Lim for visiting Tajikistan to mark the 25th anniversary of the ROK-Tajikistan diplomatic relations. Relaying the Tajik government’s grave concern over North Korean nuclear provocations, the Deputy Prime Minister affirmed Tajik support for the ROK government’s policy toward the North for the resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue as well as its plan to work closely with the ROK government in that regard.
° The Deputy Prime Minister mentioned that Tajikistan, as it is keenly interested in taking its relations with the ROK a notch higher, hopes to work with the ROK, including to increase top-level exchanges, support bids of Korean companies to build presence in special economic zones in Tajikistan, send Tajik workers to the ROK, and have the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) conduct more development cooperation projects in Tajikistan. Furthermore, he expressed hope that their two countries will work more closely together on the multilateral level through the Korea-Central Asia Cooperation Forum, which the ROK Foreign Ministry has hosted over the past ten years.
° Deputy Foreign Minister Zohidi voiced hope that the ROK and Tajikistan will reinforce the institutional cooperative foundation for upgrading their diplomatic relations, including by the ROK stationing an ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary in Tajikistan; holding bilateral policy consultations and meetings of their joint economic committee; having KOICA participate in investment programs in Tajikistan; and offering Tajiks more opportunities to study in the ROK.
4. On a separate note, on September 28, Vice Minister Lim hosted a reception at an opera and ballet theater in Tajikistan to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the ROK-Tajikistan diplomatic relations. At the event that brought together major figures of various sectors, including Tajik government officials, ethnic Koreans and leaders of the local Korean community, the Vice Minister extended appreciation to ethnic Koreans and other local Korean residents for serving as a bridge between the two countries and contributing to efforts to promote bilateral friendship and cooperation.
※ On the heels of the reception came a cultural performance in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between the ROK and the Central Asian countries. It showcased various genres of past and contemporary Korean cultural arts, including traditional dances, Samulnori (a traditional Korean percussion quartet), b-boying, fusion Gukak (traditional Korean music) and percussion music. It served as an opportunity to offer Tajik people a taste of Korea’s rich cultural arts.
5. Vice Minister Lim’s visit to Tajikistan, the first by a Vice Minister or a higher-level official of the ROK Foreign Ministry since the establishment of the bilateral diplomatic ties in 1992, is expected to help promote high-level exchanges and friendship with Tajkistan and the other Central Asian countries, the ROK’s partners in implementing its new northern policy.
* unofficial translation