1. Minister of Foreign Affairs Chung Eui-yong attended the 24th ASEAN-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on August 3 in his capacity as co-chair. In the Meeting, the participants reviewed the current situation of ROK-ASEAN cooperation under the New Southern Policy (NSP) and discussed ways to jointly overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and enhance future cooperation. They also exchanged in-depth views on regional and global issues including the situation on the Korean Peninsula.
2. Foreign Minister Chung noted that the NSP has become a strong foundation of ROK-ASEAN cooperation. He also stressed that, in order to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and create a better future with ASEAN, the ROK will continue its cooperation with ASEAN through the NSP.
o The ASEAN side commended the ROK government for making consistent efforts to reinforce its cooperation with ASEAN under the NSP and the NSP Plus, and also expressed its full support towards the NSP. Both sides agreed to align the ROK’s NSP and ASEAN’s major initiatives and strategies such as the “ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework.”
3. The participants shared their concerns about the COVID-19 resurgence in the region and agreed to enhance joint efforts to counter the situation.
o The ASEAN side extended appreciation to the ROK government for contributing to the “COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund” and providing medical supplies to support ASEAN’s efforts on COVID-19 response.
o ASEAN also highly appreciated the ROK government’s additional pledge of 200 million USD to the COVAX AMC to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
o Both sides expressed their hope to seek stronger ROK-ASEAN cooperation on public health at the “ASEAN-ROK Health Ministers’ Meeting” to be held later in the year.
4. The two sides agreed to double efforts to overcome economic difficulties caused by COVID-19 and achieve shared prosperity.
o Recognizing the importance of creating a favorable environment in the region for free trade and investment, the participants in the Meeting agreed to make efforts for an early entry into force of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and a further liberalization of the ASEAN-ROK FTA.
o Foreign Minister Chung emphasized the importance of cooperation on future industries in the post-COVID-19 era and expressed his hope that the “ASEAN-ROK ICT Convergence Village,” which was established in Busan recently, would serve as a useful platform for digital contents cooperation based on 5G technology.
5. Foreign Minister Chung noted that, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the ROK and ASEAN are continuing non-face-to-face cultural exchanges through the ASEAN-Korea Centre (AKC) and the ASEAN Culture House (ACH).
o The two sides shared the view that they need to explore ways to reopen their borders safely to more people as the COVID-19 situation improves.
6. The participants in the Meeting also exchanged views on regional and global issues including the situations on the Korean Peninsula and in Myanmar as well as the South China Sea issue.
o On the Korean Peninsula issue, Foreign Minister Chung explained the recent developments on the Korean Peninsula including the restoration of inter-Korean communication lines. He also called on the ASEAN member states to continue to play a constructive role in making substantial progress toward the complete denuclearization and establishment of permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula through diplomacy and dialogue. The ASEAN countries welcomed the restoration of the inter-Korean communication lines and expressed their support for inter-Korean dialogue, engagement and cooperation. They also showed their commitment to working together for an early resumption of dialogue based on the previous inter-Korean and U.S.-DPRK agreements.
o On Myanmar, Foreign Minister Chung called for the restoration of democracy and an immediate release of political prisoners and expressed the ROK’s support for the ASEAN’s constructive role in resolving the current situation in Myanmar. He also stressed that the five-point consensus agreed upon at the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting held in April should be implemented without delay and mentioned that the ROK government will also continue to seek ways for contribution, including providing humanitarian assistance to people of Myanmar.
o With regard to the South China Sea issue, Foreign Minister Chung emphasized that maintaining peace and stability is a matter of great importance for all of the countries, and stressed that international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS), should be respected and that freedom of navigation in and overflight above the South China Sea must be guaranteed.
7. The two sides agreed to further enhance their cooperation for the success of the ASEAN-related Summits to be held in October. In particular, the participants agreed to work together for the upcoming ASEAN-ROK Summit to adopt a joint statement specifying the achievements in NSP cooperation and reaffirming the leaders’ commitment to future cooperation.