1. On the sidelines of the ASEAN-related foreign ministerial meetings 2017 under way in the Philippines from August 6 till 8, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha held a bilateral meeting on August 5 with the foreign ministers of the Philippines, the current ASEAN chair; Singapore, the next ASEAN chair; and Indonesia, the host of the ASEAN Secretariat. In the meeting, the two sides exchanged views on the policy direction of the new government of the Republic of Korea toward ASEAN; the situation on the Korean Peninsula; and ways to boost high-level exchanges and substantive cooperation as well as other bilateral matters.
° Minister Kang will also meet with her counterparts from all the other Southeast Asian countries participating in the ASEAN meetings, which include Cambodia and Brunei, the current and the next Country Coordinators for ASEAN-ROK, respectively.
2. In the bilateral meeting with her counterparts from the ASEAN member states, Minister Kang reaffirmed the ROK government’s commitment to step up diplomacy toward ASEAN as demonstrated by the dispatch of a special envoy of the President to the organization. She also shared with the other side the basic direction of the ROK government’s policy to place priority on diplomacy toward ASEAN, which calls for achieving sustainable co-prosperity and raising mutual awareness between the peoples of the ROK and the ASEAN countries.
° The ministers from the ASEAN countries, hailing the ROK government’s direction of diplomacy toward ASEAN, voiced hope to work more closely with the ROK, a country with advanced technology and knowhow particularly in information technology (IT) and other new types of industries as well as in infrastructure construction.
3. Minister Kang pointed out that the North Korean nuclear program is posing a threat to not only the Korean Peninsula but also East Asia and the rest of the world. She went on to say that the ROK, viewing Northeast and Southeast Asia as one inseparable whole, plans to step up strategic cooperation between the two regions; and asked ASEAN to work more closely with the ROK for the denuclearization of North Korea and peace on the Korean Peninsula.
° In particular, Minister Kang extended appreciation to ASEAN over the foreign ministers of its member states issuing a separate foreign ministerial statement during their meeting at ASEAN to jointly express deep concern over the North Korean provocations; to strongly urge the North to thoroughly implement the relevant UN Security Council resolutions; and to express support for the ROK’s efforts to improve inter-Korean relations and thereby build permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula. She went on to ask ASEAN to continuously render support to the ROK on its position at the foreign ministerial meetings of the East Asia Summit (EAS) and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) as well as the rest of the ongoing ASEAN meetings.
° In response, the foreign ministers of the Philippines, the current ASEAN chair, and the other ASEAN countries stated that at the ASEAN-related foreign ministerial meetings, ASEAN will continuously render support to the new ROK government over its efforts to achieve the denuclearization of North Korea and peace on the Korean Peninsula.
4. The two sides agreed on the need to further vitalize high-level exchanges as a way to enhance bilateral relations. On that note, Minister Kang proposed that the two sides work closely together to make a success of President Moon’s visits to ASEAN countries in November for the APEC and ASEAN summits.
5. The first foreign ministerial meeting between the ROK and Southeast Asian countries since the launch of the new government in the former carries significance as an opportunity to strengthen the bond between the ROK Foreign Minister and her Southeast Asian counterparts as well as the first step to broaden the ROK’s diplomatic horizon through a closer ROK-ASEAN ties.
° With regard to North Korean problems, ASEAN issued a separate statement to clearly express support for the ROK’s policy toward the North, a rare move by ASEAN that is also seen to display its support for the ROK government’s policy to put priority on ASEAN.
* unofficial translation