"I believe the relationship between Asia and Latin America is very important. The South Korean government will further strengthen its efforts to spearhead peace and prosperity of Asia in the future by linking its new southern cooperation with ASEAN, Mekong River nations and India with its new northern cooperation with Russia and Eurasian nations," Moon said in his welcoming remarks that marked the start of the Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation in Busan, located some 400 kilometers southeast of Seoul.
The meeting, involving foreign ministers and other delegates from 36 member nations and two international organizations, will end Friday. FEALAC consists of 16 Asian countries, including Australia, China and Japan, and 20 Latin American nations that include Argentina, Brazil and Cuba.
"Also, (the South Korean government) will actively push for various cooperation projects in trade, investment, science-technology innovation, infrastructure and transport with Latin American countries by enhancing its communication and exchange with the region based on their mutual understanding and trust," the South Korean president added, according to a script of his speech released by the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.
"FEALAC is a precious asset in expanding South Korea's foreign relations."
Moon stressed the need for the two countries to work together, noting the forum was the only intergovernmental dialogue channel between East Asian and Latin American countries.
"I believe it will become a platform not only for South Korea but for all of us to open new opportunities in the future," he said.
The president said the FEALAC, since its establishment in 1999, has greatly helped enhance mutual understanding of the two regions and has also become a great network of people that account for 4 out of every 10 people in the world and nearly one-third of global trade.
Still, he urged the member nations to do more.
"Sustainable and future-oriented exchanges and cooperation cannot be limited to physical aspects, such as exchanges of products, capital and service. Sincere communication and understanding that can link people to people must take place at the same time," Moon said, noting visitors between the two regions currently accounted for less than 1 percent of all global tourists.
"We can reduce the distance between our people's hearts through increased online and offline communication," he added.
The South Korean leader also asked for the member countries' support in resolving the North Korean nuclear and missile issue, calling it the most serious challenge facing the world.
"I am confident peace in Asia and the world can be realized so much sooner when FEALAC works together to resolve this issue," he said. "Resolving the North Korean nuclear and missile issue, and establishing lasting peace in Northeast Asia cannot be an issue that only concerns the world's powerful nations. I ask for your continued support." (Yonhap)