1. During her official visit to Uzbekistan on April 17 and 18 at the invitation of Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha paid a courtesy call on President Shavkat Mirziyoev, and held a meeting with her Uzbek counterpart and another with local ethnic Koreans on April 18.
[Courtesy call on President Mirziyoev]
2. During her courtesy call on President Mirziyoev, Minister Kang relayed warm regards from President Moon Jae-in as well as his message that the Republic of Korea and Uzbekistan should work together to deepen the bilateral strategic partnership in a comprehensive and future-oriented manner.
3. Minister Kang brought the President’s attention to the current situation on the Korean Peninsula and the ROK government’s efforts to use the inter-Korean summit talks on April 27 and the US-North Korea summit meeting to come at a later date to create a big framework for the resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue and the establishment of peace on the Korean Peninsula. She went on to ask that Uzbekistan remain unwaveringly supportive of the ROK government’s efforts toward peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula.
° President Mirziyoev spoke of his deep impression over the fact that the ROK government had used the PyeongChang Winter Olympics as an opportunity to actively and sincerely implement its policy toward North Korea and had thereby thawed the long-chilly inter-Korean relations; and expressed heartfelt wish that the inter-Korean summit talks slated for April 27 will be successful and help to create a big framework for the establishment of peace on the Korean Peninsula.
4. President Mirziyoev noted with appreciation that the ROK-Uzbekistan summit talks held in November 2017 had helped to lay a comprehensive basis for a new leap of the bilateral ties, suggesting that specific ways be sought to implement bilateral cooperation projects agreed upon at the summit talks.
5. Minister Kang hailed the policies for reconciliation and cooperation with Central Asian countries actively under way since the inauguration of President Mirziyoev, saying that they have remarkably been fostering a friendly and cooperative mood in the region; and relayed the ROK government’s strong support for the Uzbek government’s policies toward Central Asia and Afghanistan.
° President Mirziyoev underscored the need for the two countries to seek out new, large-scale economic cooperation projects in order to make further progress in economic cooperation and forge a future-oriented and mutually beneficial cooperative ties. He went on to convey hope that the ROK will join Uzbekistan as a genuine partner as the latter’s government seeks far-reaching reform in such areas as political and social affairs as well as economy.
6. President Mirziyoev expressed hope that President Moon Jae-in will visit Uzbekistan at a mutually convenient time in reciprocation for his visit to the ROK in November 2017.
[ROK- Uzbekistan foreign ministerial meeting]
7. In their meeting, Foreign Ministers Kang and Kamilov discussed comprehensively and in depth the situations on the Korean Peninsula and in Central Asia as well as ways to work more closely together on the bilateral and regional levels.
° The two top diplomats, drawing a common understanding that Central Asia, a strategically significant region in Eurasia, and the Korean Peninsula-centered Northeast Asia are undergoing historic changes toward peace and stability, exchanged views on ways to work together in the process.
° Minister Kamilov brought attention to the Uzbek government’s efforts to induce the main parties related to Afghan issues to dialogue to seek a peaceful resolution of those issues and stability in the region; and voiced hope to work closely in that regard with the ROK government, which is spearheading changes on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia, including by successfully inducing North Korea to hold bilateral summit talks with the country and the US.
8. Minister Kang spoke of the ROK’s plan to cooperate closely with Uzbekistan for the latter’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), asking for Uzbekistan’s support for the ROK in elections of the UN and other international organizations. Minister Kamilov responded by expressing willingness to cooperate strongly in that regard.
[Meeting with ethnic Koreans]
9. In Tashkent later in the day, Minister Kang met with ethnic Koreans working in the government, parliament, and business and cultural exchange groups of Uzbekistan. She asked the participants to play a valuable bridging role toward a closer ROK-Uzbekistan relations, adding that the ROK government, on its part, will continue rendering assistance to the ethnic Korean community in Uzbekistan as necessary for its further advances.
10. The first visit to Uzbekistan by an ROK Foreign Minister in eleven years served as an opportunity to build upon the outcome of President Mirziyoev’s state visit to the ROK in November 2017 and create consensus on the way forward for the bilateral substantive cooperation; and for the ROK government to be ensured of support of Uzbekistan, the former’s strategic partner in Central Asia, with regard to its policy toward North Korea.
11. Minister Kang’s visits to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, which came after the visit to the ROK by the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Turkmenistan on March 30, are seen to have helped to pave the way for comprehensive cooperation with the three Central Asian countries, the ROK’s main partners in implementing its New Northern Policy, and for the Central Asian countries to reaffirm their support for the ROK government’s efforts to build peace on the Korean Peninsula.
* unofficial translation