Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha speaks during the 10th South Korea-Mekong foreign ministers' meeting, held virtually on Monday. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
The top diplomats of South Korea and the five Mekong River nations on Monday vowed to forge deeper economic ties while rolling out joint efforts to fight the new coronavirus pandemic, the foreign ministry said.
Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha participated in the 10th South Korea-Mekong foreign ministers' meeting, held virtually with countries located around the Mekong River: Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand.
"Today, we are faced with an unprecedented global pandemic that has disrupted our lives on all fronts," Kang said. "Still, I am very relieved to note that the Mekong-ROK cooperation has not stalled." ROK is the acronym for South Korea's offical name, the Republic of Korea.
During the meeting, Kang said that South Korea and the Southeast Asian nations should expand cooperation in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and seeking an economic recovery.
The five countries also expressed gratitude to South Korea for providing them with various medical supplies to help them fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I am also very pleased that in recognition of the importance of Mekong-ROK partnership, Korea was able to increase its contribution to the Mekong-ROK Cooperation Fund (MKCF) to $3 million this year," Kang said. "We are committed to continually increasing our annual contribution to the MKCF."
South Korea and the Southeast Asian countries vowed to make joint efforts to ease entry restrictions for essential travelers.
The minister reaffirmed Seoul's commitment to pursue peace on the Korean Peninsula despite various hurdles, saying it is important for the talks among Seoul, Pyongyang and Washington to resume soon.
The Mekong nations echoed the view, pointing out that they also support South Korea's efforts to resume talks with North Korea.
South Korea also promised to play an active role in preserving the biodiversity of the region.
In 2019, President Moon Jae-in and the leaders of the Mekong nations held their first summit in the southern port city of Busan.
They adopted a joint declaration centering on enhancing their economic development cooperation in resources, farming and environment, by sharing Korea's experience of its rapid post-war growth.
South Korea and the five Southeast Asian countries held their first meeting of foreign ministers in 2011. (Yonhap)