Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha speaks during a virtual Group of 20 nations’ ministerial forum last week. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha was set to attend a series of annual meetings led by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations beginning Wednesday to discuss responses to the novel coronavirus and other regional issues.
This year’s sessions, held virtually due to the pandemic, arrive at a time when Washington and Beijing are competing for influence in the region, intensifying their rivalry.
The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to top the agenda at this year’s gatherings, which run through Saturday, as well as other regional issues including territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
On Wednesday Kang was to participate in the ASEAN Plus Three meeting, joined by the 10 ASEAN member nations as well as South Korea, China and Japan. The South Korea-ASEAN foreign ministers’ meeting will be held next, followed by an East Asia Summit that brings together 18 countries including the US, Russia and India.
On Saturday, Kang will take part in the ASEAN Regional Forum, the region’s biggest annual security forum, bringing together top diplomats from 27 countries including North Korea. The North’s ambassador to Vietnam will reportedly attend instead of Foreign Minister Ri Son-gwon.
Seoul plans to use the forum and other events to urge Pyongyang to resume stalled denuclearization talks, while calling for international support toward denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula and achieving peace.
By Ahn Sung-mi (email@example.com