MANILA (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in on Monday called for efforts to diversify and upgrade relations between South Korea and Southeast Asian countries.
During a meeting in Manila with his counterparts from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, he also appealed for their support of Seoul‘s policy to resolve the North Korean nuclear dispute peacefully.
The South Korea-ASEAN summit was attended by the leaders of all 10 ASEAN member countries -- Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
“President Moon stressed that ASEAN is key partner in efforts to expand our foreign relations. Then, President Moon introduced his vision for a Korea-ASEAN community, proposing to build a people-oriented joint community of peace and co-prosperity,” the South Korean presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said of the meeting.
Moon earlier said the Korea-ASEAN joint community aims to boost exchange between the countries’ people, instead of governments.
“We must first be friends before we can share a future. To this end, we will increase exchanges between people of all levels, including businesspeople and students, in addition to exchanges between heads of state and governments,” the South Korean leader said while speaking to some 500 business leaders from the 10 ASEAN countries in a meeting known as the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit here.
While meeting with ASEAN leaders in their summit, Moon proposed they build an “open community” that will ensure the free exchange of people and goods.
Moon earlier said his government will consider simplifying its visa issuance process for ASEAN countries. The sides already have a free trade agreement that went into effect 10 years ago in June 2007.
“President Moon called for efforts to allow the people enjoy more opportunities and better lives by jointly establishing the foundation of their sustainable growth, noting that the people must be able to feel and enjoy the benefits of the countries‘ exchange and cooperation to ensure sustainable growth,” Cheong Wa Dae said in a press release.
The South Korean leader earlier called for efforts to boost the annual trade between his country and ASEAN countries to US$200 billion in 2020.
The ASEAN leaders welcomed Moon’s initiative to improve Korea-ASEAN relations, noting his dispatch of a special envoy to ASEAN following his election in May showed his serious and sincere he was toward ASEAN, according to Cheong Wa Dae.
Moon also asked for ASEAN countries‘ continued support for efforts to rid North Korea of its nuclear ambition.
“The ASEAN leaders expressed grave concerns over North Korea’s continuing provocations while reaffirming their resolve to never allow North Korean nukes,” Cheong Wa Dae said. “They also expressed their full support for our government‘s efforts to improve the South-North relations and establish lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.”