President Moon Jae-in and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad held a summit meeting in Seoul on Thursday, agreeing in principle to upgrade bilateral relations to that of strategic partners next year. At the summit, Moon praised Malaysia’s rapid economic growth and expanding South Korea-Malaysia relations, going on to express hopes for further cooperation.
“Malaysia’s Look East Policy and Korea’s New Southern Policy have come together harmoniously (enabling bilateral cooperation) to areas the people can feel for themselves, such as responding to the ‘fourth industrial revolution,’ smart city, and halal industry,” Moon said.
“I hope to further advance cooperation in areas such as information and communications technology, defense and small and medium- sized enterprises.”
According to Cheong Wa Dae, they also agreed in principle to upgrade the bilateral cooperation to that of strategic partners in 2020 to mark 60 years of diplomatic ties.
In response, the Malaysian leader congratulated Moon on the success of the ASEAN-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit, adding that Southeast Asian nations hope to learn from Korea’s rapid economic development.
“(I) sincerely welcome Korea’s New Southern Policy. It will bring Korea and the ASEAN nations closer,” he said.
The Malaysian prime minister went on to voice support for Moon’s foreign policies and peace initiative.
“Malaysia will actively support the idea of establishing an international peace zone in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Inter-Korean tensions will be eased if such a zone is established.”
The idea of establishing a peace zone within the DMZ that divides the two Korea was proposed by Moon at the UN General Assembly. He also expressed hopes that Malaysia’s head of state will make a state visit to Korea next year to mark the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties between both nations.
The summit was followed by the signing of a number of MOUs and a welcoming luncheon.
The two sides agreed to cooperate in a range of areas, including information and communications technology, public health services, water management and in establishing e-government system.
Under the ICT MOU, the two countries will cooperate in a range of areas including 5G mobile services, artificial intelligence and internet of things, and facilitate exchange between the nations’ businesses and in training personnel.
The MOU on water management calls for increased cooperation in managing water resources, sewerage system, and other related areas.
Moon has held bilateral summits with all nine leaders of Association of Southeast Asian Nations who attended the ASEAN-Korea summit and the Mekong-Korea Summit -- held in Busan from Monday to Wednesday. A Korea-Cambodia summit was replaced with a foreign ministerial meeting as the Cambodian leader canceled his trip citing family reasons.
By Choi He-suk (email@example.com