Deputy Minister Yeo explained the new government’s vision to actively contribute to freedom, peace, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and discussed regional and global issues.
1. The East Asia Summit (EAS) Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) was held online at 20:00-24:00 (KST) on 8 June 2022. Deputy Minister for Political Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Yeo Seung-Bae attended as the head of the Republic of Korea’s delegation. At the meeting, participants discussed ways to increase cooperation for regional peace and prosperity as well as recent regional and international developments.
※ The EAS, which was launched in 2005, is an ASEAN-led premier strategic forum that covers political and security-related issues and is participated by the leaders of major countries in the region. The EAS membership is comprised of the ten ASEAN member states, the Republic of Korea, China, Japan, the U.S., Russia, Australia, New Zealand, and India. The EAS SOM is attended by vice ministers or deputy ministers from participating countries.
2. Deputy Minister Yeo explained the new ROK government’s vision to embrace a greater role in the Indo-Pacific region, which has gained increasing geo-political and geo-economic importance in recent years, by actively contributing to the promotion of freedom, peace, and prosperity. Deputy Minister Yeo added that the ROK is committed to further strengthening cooperation with its key partner, ASEAN, which is located at the heart of the Indo-Pacific, based on its steadfast support for the ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific.
ㅇ Deputy Minister Yeo also noted that the ROK government seeks to support ASEAN’s integration efforts by narrowing the development gap and enhancing connectivity via mini-lateral cooperation with the Mekong sub-region and the East ASEAN Growth Area, or BIMP-EAGA.
3. A number of countries pointed out that the situation on the Korean Peninsula is one of the most pressing issues in the region. Deputy Minister Yeo said that the DPRK’s recent missile test launches, which include ICBMs, are a clear violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions and a grave threat to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, the region and the world. He emphasized that the EAS, as the region’s leading strategic forum, should take a firm and united stance against the DPRK's provocations.
ㅇ Deputy Minister Yeo also explained that the ROK government will keep the door open for dialogue and will make every effort to achieve lasting peace by making meaningful progress in the denuclearization of the DPRK and confidence building between the two Koreas. He called for the continued support of EAS members for the ROK’s efforts to this end.
4. The EAS members, including the ROK, reemphasized the central role of the EAS in strengthening cooperation for COVID-19 related recovery efforts and in responding to emerging challenges in this region. Participants exchanged views on some of the major developments, including in Myanmar, the South China Sea, and Ukraine. Many participants expressed concern over the situation in Myanmar and Ukraine, while emphasizing the need to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea.
ㅇ With regard to Myanmar, Deputy Minister Yeo expressed concern on the deterioration of democracy and human rights in the country and called for the immediate cessation of violence, the release of those detained, unfettered humanitarian access, the implementation of the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus, and Myanmar’s swift return to democracy. He also said that the ROK will continue to provide humanitarian assistance for the people of Myanmar.
ㅇ On South China Sea, Deputy Minister Yeo reaffirmed the ROK’s commitment to expanding cooperation with countries in the region in maintaining the rule of law and a rules-based multilateral order in this major international sea lane. He also mentioned that actions escalating tension in these waters, such as those threatening peace, stability, and freedom of navigation and overflight, must be avoided.
ㅇ As for the situation in Ukraine, Deputy Minister Yeo said that the country’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence must be respected and that the ROK strongly opposes Russia’s aggression as it is a violation of the UN Charter and international law. He explained that the ROK is taking an active part in the ongoing international efforts to peacefully resolve the war by various means including through humanitarian aid.
5. The EAS Senior Officials’ Meeting is an important venue for the participating countries to exchange views on key regional issues, have a strategic discussion, and explore ways to increase substantive cooperation. Under the vision of a “global pivotal state”, the ROK will proactively participate in the upcoming Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and Summit later this year so as to contribute to promoting peace, stability, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.