1. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted the 2nd virtual meeting on “Northeast Asia Cooperation for Health Security (NEACHS)” on the evening of March 30.
° The meeting held in the track 1 format brought together director-level officials of the foreign and health ministries of Korea, the U.S., China, Japan, Russia and Mongolia as well as diplomats at the embassies of those countries in Korea.
2. In his welcoming remarks, Deputy Minister for Political Affairs Kim Gunn underscored the need to continue strengthening the momentum for implementing the initiative of NEACHS amid the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic and presented ways forward, including seeking out and implementing substantive cooperation projects, cooperating with non-participating countries in a flexible and open manner when needed, and establishing a sustainable institutional framework.
° The Deputy Minister also voiced hope for North Korea’s participation, adding that it would pave the way for cooperation with relevant countries in Northeast Asia and contribute to peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula and in the region.
3. The participants focused on ways to consolidate and institutionalize the initiative, including seeking out and implementing substantive cooperation projects, holding the NEACHS meeting on a regular basis (more than once per quarter) and setting the initiative’s terms of reference (TOR).
° Given the urgent need for and feasibility of cooperation on response to COVID-19, the Korean side suggested reviewing first as candidate projects for substantive cooperation joint reserve of medical supplies for disease prevention and control as well as joint education and training for COVID-19 response personnel. The participants agreed to continue consultations in order to select cooperation projects and draw up a concrete action plan.
° The participants also agreed to continue consultations on holding the next NEACHS meeting in the second quarter of the year and drawing up the initiative’s TOR.
4. The meeting is seen to have served as an opportunity to discuss in depth ways to maintain the momentum for moving forward NEACHS, which was launched in late 2020 led by Korea, as well as ways to consolidate and institutionalize NEACHS among foreign affairs and health authorities of Northeast Asian countries.
5. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a bid for NEACHS to become a pivot of cooperation on health security in the region, will accelerate discussions to seek out and implement concrete cooperation projects by holding regular meetings and will continue efforts to establish the institutional framework for NEACHS.