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S. Korean president starts summit diplomacy at ASEAN meetings

Moon Jae-in attends an annual forum hosted by ASEAN following his first summit with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in attended an annual forum hosted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and held a bilateral summit with his Philippine counterpart Monday.

Moon also attended an annual Korea-ASEAN summit with leaders of all 10 ASEAN member countries, according to the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.

Korean president arrives in Philippines for ASEAN meetings (Yonhap)
Korean president arrives in Philippines for ASEAN meetings (Yonhap)

The meeting was followed by Moon’s first summit with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

The South Korean president arrived in the Philippines on Sunday, following trips to Indonesia and Vietnam, which are also ASEAN countries.

He has repeatedly emphasized the importance of ASEAN states in Seoul’s foreign policy. He earlier introduced the New South Policy aimed at boosting economic and diplomatic ties with Southeast Asian countries.

In Jakarta, Moon said Korea would seek to boost its annual trade volume with ASEAN to over $200 billion by 2020.

Moon has also said that ASEAN countries may be of great help in ridding North Korea of its nuclear ambition, noting they all have diplomatic relations with the reclusive North. The communist state largely remains isolated and refuses to hold any type of dialogue with Seoul.

ASEAN meetings in Manila will also include the ASEAN Plus Three summit, involving the leaders of ASEAN, South Korea, Japan and China. And those 13 countries will be joined by an additional five nations -- Australia, India, New Zealand, Russia and the United States -- for the East Asia Summit.

Moon also met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Monday for bilateral talks that are widely expected to focus on ways to improve the countries’ ties.

The meeting follows Moon’s bilateral summit with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Danang, Vietnam, last week.

The South Korea-China summit, the first of its kind in four months, marked what many called the start of normalizing ties between the two countries.

Earlier this year, Seoul-Beijing relations soured after the deployment of the US’ Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system in South Korea.

After months of Chinese protest and discussions, the two countries’ foreign ministries issued a joint statement on Oct. 31, saying the countries will put their relationship back on track.

Xi said his summit talks with Moon marked a “good start and a new beginning.”

Moon’s talks with the Chinese premier will further highlight the improvement in South Korea-China relations, Seoul officials have said.

“President Moon and President Xi may have discussed ways to improve the countries’ overall relations, while the meeting with Premier Li will likely focus on details of ways to do so,” an official from the South Korean presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said earlier.

Moon and Li are also scheduled to attend the ASEAN Plus Three summit on Tuesday for discussions on ways to improve their countries’ relations with ASEAN. The annual forum involves the leaders of all 10 ASEAN countries, as well as those of South Korea, China and Japan. (Yonhap)

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