Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se on Thursday discussed ways to boost bilateral relations and cooperation in economic, regional and global issues with his counterparts from the U.K., Australia, Sweden, Indonesia and Sri Lanka.
The relay of bilateral talks took place on the sidelines of the Seoul Conference on Cyberspace, which runs for two days through Friday in Seoul.
Yun’s meetings with British Foreign Secretary William Hague and Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop were overshadowed by the two countries’ recent support for Japan’s expanded military role.
|William Hague (Yonhap News)|
“As discussions are under way in Japan (with regard to the right to collective self-defense), we will express our position according to needs and conditions,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young told reporters before the talks.
“That means at the current stage, we are delivering our principles and concerns as opportunity offers and through appropriate channels, including foreign ministers’ meetings with Australia and the U.K.”
Korea is concerned about Japan’s moves to reinterpret its pacifist constitution and exercise the right to collective self-defense, which coincide with the Shinzo Abe administration’s swing to the right.
During talks with his Japanese countrepart Fumio Kishida in Tokyo on Wednesday, Hague said that Britain “unequivocally” welcomes Japan’s more active role in international peace and security and expressed his willingness to help launch a national security council, according to Kyodo News.
|Julie Bishop (Xinhua)|
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop also displayed support for Japan’s desire to shift its military to a “normal” defense posture during a trip to Tokyo on Tuesday.
The two staunch U.S. allies welcome a greater security contribution by Japan as China is posing a growing challenge to Washington in regional security.
Tokyo’s increasing military assertiveness, however, has sparked backlash in Seoul and Beijing, where resentment still runs high for its invasion and wartime atrocities of the early 20th century.
Yun exchanged views with Hague on how to work together on the situation on the Korean Peninsula, trade and investment, Syria, cyber security, climate change and other issues.
President Park Geun-hye plans to visit London on Nov. 4-7 at the invitation of Queen Elizabeth II as part of her weeklong tour of Western Europe that begins on Nov. 2 and includes stops in Paris and Belgium.
After a courtesy call to Park, Hague displayed confidence in the future growth of the two countries “long and close relationship.”
“I offered the U.K.’s full support for her efforts to build mutual trust and stability on the Korean Peninsula, as well as Korea’s positive regional and international role, including in conflict zones around the world and in the Group of 20,” he said in a statement.
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt and Yun conferred about how to boost economic, science and technology and people-to-people exchanges.
Korea has been seeking to deepen partnerships with Nordic countries, primarily on sharing knowhow in scientific development, Arctic research, renewable energy and other clean technologies.
Seoul and Stockholm clinched an agreement in 2009 for cooperation in science and technology. They have since then been conducting joint research and forums and expanding exchanges between universities and think tanks.
At a meeting with Sri Lanka’s External Affairs Minister Gamini Lakshman Peiris, he and Yun reviewed the two countries’ relations and discussed ways to strengthen high-level dialogue and collaboration in trade and investment, development, labor and culture.
Later in the day, Yun met with Indonesian Foreign Minister Raden Mohammad Marty Muliana Natalegawa, less than a week after Park’s state visit to Jakarta and summit with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
They consulted on how to follow up on the presidential trip’s outcome, focusing on economic cooperation. The two nations’ marked the 40th anniversary of the launch of bilateral relations.
Along with Korea, Mexico and Turkey, Indonesia and Australia are the members of an informal consultation body called MIKTA which was launched late last month in New York to boost their say on regional and global issues.
Yun met with International Atomic Energy Agency Director-general Yukiya Amano and Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja on Wednesday. He is scheduled for talks with top diplomats from Hungary, Estonia, Rwanda, Bangladesh and Ghana on Friday.
By Shin Hyon-hee (firstname.lastname@example.org)