1. On August 26, Deputy Minister for Political Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Kim Gunn attended as head of the Republic of Korea’s delegation the “ASEAN-ROK Dialogue,” an annual high-level consultative forum between the ROK and ten ASEAN countries, and co-chaired the meeting with Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Brunei Darussalam Emaleen Abdul Rahman Teo. Deputy Minister Kim had a broad exchange of views on ways to strengthen cooperation between the ROK and ASEAN in responding to and overcoming COVID-19 as well as regional situations.
o The ASEAN-ROK Dialogue is an annual dialogue channel attended by vice and deputy foreign ministers of the ROK and ten ASEAN countries, and Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN. The Dialogue has been held every year alternately in the ROK and an ASEAN country (Country Coordinator for ASEAN-ROK Dialogue Relations). This year’s meeting was planned to take place in the ROK, but due to the COVID-19 situation, it was held in a virtual format.
2. The high-level officials of the ROK and ASEAN countries shared the view that even amid the COVID-19 situation, they need to make substantive progress in bilateral cooperation in all areas, including political, security, and economic affairs, as well as social and cultural affairs, and discussed ways to increase health cooperation and continue future-oriented collaboration and exchanges in the region.
3. Deputy Minister Kim suggested that the two sides realize a “People-centered Community of Peace and Prosperity” by developing the New Southern Policy in a way that further strengthens cooperation in a range of areas, including political, security, economic, social and cultural affairs, and that they continue to check the progress in the agreement on cooperation reached between the leaders of participating countries at the ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit last year so that it can be faithfully implemented.
o Amid growing awareness about the importance of non-traditional security due primarily to the unprecedented challenge of COVID-19, the participants extensively discussed ways to step up cooperation on counter-terrorism, violent extremism, transnational crimes, climate change, environment, and disaster management. They also talked about ways to work together to increase protection and support for vulnerable groups, including women, the elderly, and low-income groups.
o In addition, Deputy Minister Kim introduced the ROK government’s efforts for economic recovery after COVID-19, including the Korean New Deal policy; stressed the importance of allowing essential personnel, including business people in the region, to travel; and expressed hope that efforts to boost cooperation in the digital economy and support small business owners and SMEs would help the ROK and ASEAN’s economies recover and grow together. He also discussed in depth other issues of mutual interest in the economic sector, including smart city and connectivity.
o Regarding social and cultural cooperation, the two sides noted with appreciation that even amid restrictions on people-to-people exchanges due to COVID-19, the ROK and ASEAN are conducting various exchanges and public diplomacy activities by using non-face-to-face and online formats as alternatives. They also agreed to explore ways to bring exchanges and tourism back on track based on thorough quarantine measures as soon as the COVID-19 situation improves.
4. With competition among major countries having an impact on regional situations, the participants shared the view that cooperation between the ROK and ASEAN countries and their constructive roles have become more important, and candidly discussed the situation on the Korean Peninsula and regional cooperation.
o Concerning the situation on the Korean Peninsula, the ROK side stressed that it is important to implement the agreements among the ROK, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and the United States of America as well as the inter-Korean agreements, and for the DPRK to return to dialogue promptly. In response, ASEAN countries emphasized the need to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue through efforts to ease tension on the Korean Peninsula and dialogue among countries concerned, and expressed their firm support for the Korean Peninsula peace process.
o The ROK side noted that ASEAN-led consultative mechanisms are playing important roles in establishing and maintaining peace in the region, and expressed support for the “ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP)” announced by ASEAN last year. In particular, the ROK side agreed on the need to pursue regional cooperation in a way that upholds ASEAN centrality, openness, transparency, inclusiveness, and rules-based order that were presented as key principles in the AOIP.
5. Deputy Minister Kim requested ASEAN’s support for Trade Minister Yoo Myung-Hee, the ROK’s candidate for World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General. The ASEAN side noted with appreciation that the ROK has nominated a competent candidate.
6. The high-level officials of the ROK and ASEAN countries agreed to continue communication to ensure that the discussion in this meeting leads to concrete results through the foreign ministers’ meeting and summit scheduled for the second half of this year.