1. During his visit to the Republic of Uzbekistan from March 10 until 12, Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Yoon Soon-gu, together with Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan Dilshod Akhatov, held the 13th Republic of Korea-Republic of Uzbekistan political consultations and a luncheon on March 11. The two senior diplomats took the opportunity to exchange a wide range of views on matters of mutual concern, including the way forward for the bilateral relations, ways to step up bilateral substantive cooperation, ways for the ROK and Central Asia to work together, and the situation in Central Asia.
2. The two sides noted with appreciation that since establishing diplomatic relations in 1992, the ROK and Uzbekistan had steadily advanced their friendly and cooperative ties, as could be seen from the 15 bilateral summits; and were becoming closer to each other than ever before, as demonstrated by the record-breaking two-way trade volume (US$2.14 billion) in 2018 and increasingly active exchanges between people of the two countries. On that note, they agreed to continue working together with each other in 2019 in various areas, including political and foreign affairs, economy and humanities exchanges.
° In particular, Deputy Minister Yoon noted that continued high-level exchanges based on trust and friendship, including President Mirziyoyev’s state visit to the ROK in November 2017, merely six months after President Moon Jae-in’s inauguration, the meeting of the Deputy Prime Ministers for economic affairs in February 2018 and the Foreign Ministers’ meeting in April 2018, had contributed to the advancement of the bilateral relations. He went on to express hope that the two countries would use such opportunities as the Korea-Central Asia Cooperation Forum to continue high-level exchanges in 2019.
° Deputy Minister Akhatov, sharing Deputy Minister Yoon’s view that the bilateral relations were moving stably forward on the back of active high-level exchanges, voiced hope that the 9th meeting of the bilateral Trade and Economic Cooperation Committee held in Tashkent on March 4, the soon-to-be-held second meeting between the Deputy Prime Ministers for economic affairs in Seoul, and various exchanges between entrepreneurs would help to drive forward economic cooperation between the two countries.
3. Deputy Minister Yoon explained that the ROK government’s “New Northern Policy” calls for achieving co-prosperity in Eurasia through an enhanced connectivity. Saying that the goal of the ROK government’s policy was similar to that of the Uzbek policy, which has actively been under way since the inauguration of President Mirziyoyev to achieve reconciliation and stronger cooperation in Central Asia, the Deputy Minister expressed hope that the two countries would continue working together to bring positive changes for peace and prosperity in Eurasia.
° The Deputy Minister voiced hope that as a way to promote connectivity in Eurasia, the ROK and Uzbekistan would work together in information and communications technology (ICT) and other areas related to the fourth industrial revolution as well as energy networks, transportation and logistics; and that in order to attain co-prosperity in Eurasia, the two countries would explore the possibility of starting cooperation in such areas as high value-added industries, health and medical care, public administration, and environment. He also proposed that in a bid to promote mutual understanding between their people, the two countries bolster cooperation in exploring and preserving cultural heritage.
° Deputy Minister Akhatov, welcoming the ROK government’s efforts to step up cooperation with the Eurasian countries through its New Northern Policy, relayed hope of the Uzbek government to work more closely with the ROK in the course of the former’s extensive reform efforts across the board, including political and social affairs, and economy.
4. Just ahead of the ROK-Uzbekistan political consultations, Deputy Minister Yoon Soon-gu met with Uzbek Minister of Foreign Affairs Kamilov, during which the Deputy Minister attributed the rapid advances in the bilateral relationship over the 27 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations to not only active, trust-based exchanges between the leaders of the two countries but also mutual understanding and friendly sentiment between their people.
° Foreign Minister Kamilov noted that similarities between people of the two countries, who value dedication to families and society more than anything else, as well as the role of the ethnic Koreans in Uzbekistan had contributed greatly to the efforts to deepen the ROK-Uzbekistan relations. He went on to place hope on the 13th ROK-Uzbekistan political consultations as an opportunity to discuss in depth specific ways to jointly seek more solid bilateral relations.
5. The 13th ROK-Uzbekistan political consultations are seen to have served as an opportunity to review the progress in substantive cooperation in each area with Uzbekistan, the ROK’s major partner for its New Northern Policy; and to exchange an extensive range of views on how to advance the bilateral ties in a future-oriented way.