President Yoon Suk-yeol expressed caution against protectionism and vowed Korea's support for the G-20's cooperation in the food and energy sectors as well as contributions to international solidarity in the health sector, at the G-20 Summit on Tuesday.
On the sidelines of the summit, Yoon had a bilateral summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in the evening to discuss China's role in resolving the North Korean nuclear issue at a time when its seventh nuclear test could take place at any moment amid North Korea's all-out provocations.
The two leaders entered the talks at 5:20 p.m., slightly past the initially announced time, and the talks ended after about 25 minutes, the presidential office said. The meeting took place without pool coverage of reporters from the two countries.
According to the written statement released by the office, Yoon emphasized close communication between South Korea and China saying, "We will cooperate for a more developed Korea-China relationship based on mutual respect,” in his remarks during the summit with Xi.
Yoon told him the diplomatic goal of the Korean government is to “lead and contribute to freedom, peace and prosperity” in the East Asia and the international community. China’s role is important in “pursuing freedom, peace and prosperity” in the international community, he added.
"We look forward to working together on global issues such as peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, including economic and human exchanges, and even climate change and energy,” Yoon said.
President Yoon pointed out that North Korea is continuing its provocations with unprecedented frequency and escalating nuclear and missile threats, and expressed hope that China, as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and a neighboring country, will “play a more active and constructive role.”
President Xi responded that North Korea's intention is the key to South Korea’s audacious initiative and that if North Korea responds, China will “actively support and cooperate” to ensure that the plan is well implemented.
Xi said he has not been able to visit Korea due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but he would happily accept President Yoon's invitation to visit Korea when the COVID-19 situation stabilizes to a better extent and hoped that President Yoon would visit China at a mutually convenient time.
This was the first face-to-face meeting between Xi and Yoon, who took office in May. It has been three years since the last Korea-China summit was held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on December 2019, during the former Moon Jae-in government.
Before the trip to Southeast Asia, the presidential office saw the possibility such a summit as dim, saying a meeting between the two leaders would likely only be an encounter or informal talks during the conferences.
Over the weekend at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia, South Korea, the US and Japan released a joint statement that included their basic positions that Taiwan “remain unchanged” and reiterated the importance of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait as an indispensable element of security and prosperity in the international community.
During the morning sessions on Tuesday, Xi met with Yoon briefly and told him that he looked forward to meeting later in the day, according to the Korean presidential office.
The G-20 Summit was held under the theme of "Recover Together, Recover Stronger," inspired by a desire to jointly shape policies after the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic consequences. Among the various items on the agenda, sessions were held in three areas: food and energy security, health and digital transformation.
In addition to the 20 member countries, representatives of 10 invited countries, including Spain and the Netherlands, and invited international organizations such as the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank gathered together to discuss major global issues.
In the first session, Yoon told the leaders that international cooperation to cope with global food and energy security threats is of the utmost importance.
“As a responsible member of the international community, we will actively participate in the G-20 cooperation in the food and energy sector, contributing to the freedom of global citizens and the prosperity of the international community,” he said.
Mentioning that all member countries participated in the "standstill" of trade and investment barriers proposed by South Korea at the first G-20 summit in 2008, he urged that they work together to “prevent unreasonable export and production measures” that hinder global food and energy price stability.
He also told the leaders that the nations should focus on “building a green-friendly and sustainable food and energy system,” and pay more attention to the development and sharing of innovative green technologies.
In the second session focusing on health, Yoon vowed that South Korea would contribute to the international community as a “facilitator” of international health solidarity.
In his remarks, Yoon said it is time to regain the freedom that was constrained by the pandemic through strong health solidarity. “It is the solidarity of the international community that protects freedom, which is a universal value for mankind, from another pandemic.”
Korea will contribute more actively to “strengthening and spreading solidarity” among people around the world who share the value of freedom, Yoon said.
G-20 leaders included criticism of the war in Ukraine in their joint statement, according to multiple foreign media outlets.
"Most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine and stressed it is causing immense human suffering and exacerbating existing fragilities in the global economy," the draft said.
The use or threat of nuclear weapons is unacceptable, the statement said. They called for the peaceful resolution of disputes, efforts to solve crises and diplomacy and dialogue. For the final draft of the statement to be adopted it must be signed by G-20 leaders at the two-day summit on Tuesday.
On Monday, Yoon made a speech at the B-20 Summit and attended the Korea-Indonesia business roundtable held at the Nusa Dua Convention Center in Bali, Indonesia, along with Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo ahead of the G-20 Summit.
On Monday night, Yoon said on his Facebook account that during his meeting with Jokowi he proposed “advance cooperation” between the two countries in various fields, including digital transformation and clean energy.
During the business meetings, six memorandums of understanding were signed at the government level and four were signed at the corporate level. Yoon said he believes it will be an “important milestone” in economic cooperation between the two countries.
In particular, the launch of high-level dialogue in the investment sector has a “special meaning” in that it immediately resolves investment-related difficulties between the two countries and responsibly examines cooperative projects, he said.